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THE LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 




ENDOWED BY THE 

DIALECTIC AND PHILANTHROPIC 

SOCIETIES 



PR5842 

.W8 

J6 

1890 



UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL 



000 



9686895 



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FORM NO 513, 
REV. 1/84 









Digitized by tlie Internet Arcliive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/johnnyludlowOOwood 



JOHNNY LUDLOW 



' God sent his Singers upon earth 
With songs of sadness and of mirth, 
That they might touch the hearts of men, 
And bring them back to heaven again." 

Longfellow. 



JOHNNY LUDLO 






MRS. HENRY WOOD, 

AUTHOR OF " EAST LYNNE," " THE CHANNINGS," ETC., ETC. 



FIFTH SERIES. 





TXtia lElrttfon. 



LONDON: 
EICHAED BENTLEY AND SON, 

^uSltsJjfW in ®rlimarg to f^tr Majtst^ tf)t ®ueen. 
1890. 

CAil rights reserved.) 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

Featheeston's Stoey ,c. ... ,., ... ... 1 

Watching on St. Makk's Eve ... ,,. ... 205 

Banker's Visit ... ... ... ... ... ... 224 

KoGER Monk ... ... ... ... ... 245 

The Ebony Box ... ... ... ... ... 271 

Our First Term at Oxford ... ... ... ... 349 



JOH]SrN"Y LUDLOW. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 

I. 

I HAVE called this Featherston's story, because it was 
through him that I heard about it — and, indeed, saw 
a little of it towards the end. 

Buttermead, the wide straggling district to which 
Featherston enjoyed the honour of being doctor-in- 
ordinary, was as rural as any that can be found in 
Worcestershire. Featherston's house stood at the end 
of the village. Whitney Hall lay close by ; as did 
our school, Dr. Frost's. In the neighbourhood were 
scattered a few other substantial residences, some 
farmers' homesteads and labourers' cottages. Feather- 
ston was a slim man, with long thin legs and a face 
grey and careworn, His patients (like the soldier s 
steam arm) gave him no rest day or night. 

There is no need to go into details here about 
Featherston's people. His sister, Mary Ann, lived in 
his house at one time, and for everyday ailments was 
almost ^s good a doctor as he. She was not at all 

Johnny Ludlgw.— V. X 



2 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

like him: a merry, talkative, sociable little woman, 
with black hair and quick, kindly dark eyes. 

Our resident French master in those days at Dr. 
Frost's was one Monsieur Jules Carimon : a small 
man with honest blue eyes in his clean-shaven face, 
and light brown hair cropped close to his head. He 
was an awful martinet at study, but a genial little 
gentleman out of it. To the surprise of Buttermead, 
he and Mary Featherston set up a courtship. It was 
carried on in sober fashion, as befitted a sober couple 
who had both left thirty years, and the rest, behind 
them ; and after a summer or two of it they laid 
plans for their marriage and for living in France. 

'' I'm sure I don't know what on earth I shall do 
amongst the French, Johnny Ludlow," Mary said to 
me in her laughing way, when I and Bill Whitney 
were having tea at Featherston's one half-holiday, the 
week before the wedding. '''Jules protests they are 
easier to get on w^ith than the English; not so stift* 
and formal ; but I don't pay attention to all he says, 
you know." 

Monsieur Jules Carimon was going to settle down 
at his native place, Sainteville — a town on the 
opposite coast, which had a service of English steamers 
running to it two or three times a-week. He had 
obtained the post of first classical master at the college 
there, and meant to eke out his salary (never large in 
French colleges) by teaching French and mathematics 
to as many English pupils as he could obtain out of 
hours. Like other northern French seaport towns, 
Sainteville had its small colony of British residents. 

" We shall get on ; I am not afraid," answered Mary 
Featherston to a doubting remark made to her by old 



FEATHERSTON'S STOBY. 3 

Mrs. Selby of the Court. " Neither I nor Jules have 
been accustomed to luxury, and we don't care for 
it. We would as soon make our dinner of bread- 
and-butter and radishes, as of chicken and^ apple- 
tart." 

So the wedding took place, and they departed the 
same day for Sainteville. And of the first two or 
three years after that there's nothing good or bad to 
record. 

i Selby Court lay just outside Buttermead. Its 
mistress, an ancient lady now, was related to the 
Preen family, of whom I spoke in that story which 
told of the tragical death of Oliver. Lavinia Preen, 
sister to Oliver's father, Gervase Preen, but younger, 
lived with Mrs. Selby as a sort of adopted daughter ; 
and when the death of the father, old Mr. Preen, left 
nearly all his large family with scarcely any cheese to 
their bread, Mrs. Selby told Ann Preen, the youngest 
of them all, that she might come to her also. So 
Lavinia and Ann Preen lived at the Court, and had no 
other home. 

These two ladies were intimate with Mary Feather- 
ston, all three being much attached to one another. 
When Mary married and left her country for France, 
the Miss Preens openly resented it, saying she ought 
to have had more consideration. Did some premoni- 
tory instinct prompt that unreasonable resentment? 
I cannot say. No one can say. But it is certain that 
had Mary Featherston not gone to live abroad, the 
ominous chain of events fated to engulf the sisters 
could not have touched them, and this account, which 
is a perfectly true one, would never have been 
written. 



4 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

For a short time after the marriage they and Mary 
Carimon exchanged a letter now and then ; not often, 
for foreign postage was expensive ; and then it dropped 
altogether. 

Mrs. Selby became an invalid, and died. She left 
each of the two sisters seventy pounds a-year for life ; 
if the one died, the other was to enjoy the whole ; 
when both were dead, it would lapse back to the Selby 
estate. 

*' Seventy pounds a-year ! " remarked Ann Preen 
to her sister. ^' It does not seem very much, does it, 
Lavinia ? Shall we be able to live upon it ? '' 

They were seated in the wainscoted parlour at 
Selby Court, talking of the future. The funeral was 
over, and they must soon leave ; for the house was 
waiting to be done up for the reception of its new 
master, Mr. Paul Selby, an old bachelor full of nervous 
fancies. 

''We must live upon it, Nancy," said Lavinia in 
answer to her. 

She was the stronger-minded of the two, and she 
looked it. A keen, practical woman, of rather more 
than middle height, with smooth brown hair, pleasant, 
dark hazel eyes, and a bright glow in her cheeks. 
Ann (or Nancy, as she was more often called) was 
smaller and lighter, with a pretty face, a shower of 
fair ringlets, and mild, light-blue eyes ; altogether not 
unlike a pink- and- white wax. doll. 

"We should have been worse off, Nancy, had she 
not left us anything ; and sometimes I have feared 
she might not," remarked Lavinia cheerfully. " It will 
be a hundred and forty pounds between us, dear ; we 
can live upon that.'' 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 5 

" Of course we can, if you think so, Lavinia," said 
the other, who deemed her elder sister wiser than any 
one in the world, and revered her accordingly. 

" But we should live cheaper abroad than here, I 
expect," continued Lavinia. "It's said money goes 
twice as far in France as in England. Suppose we 
were to go over, Nancy, and try ? We could come 
back if we did not like it.'' 

Nancy's eyes sparkled. " I think it would be 
delightful," she said. '' Money go further in France — 
why, to be sure it does ! Aunt Emily is able to live 
like a princess at Tours, by all accounts. Yes, yes, 
Lavinia, let us try France ! " 

One fine spring morning the Miss Preens packed up 
their bag and baggage and started for the Continent. 
They went direct to Tours, intending to make that 
place their pied-a-terre, as the French phrase it; at 
any rate, for a time. It was not, perhaps, the wisest 
thing they could have done. 

For Mrs. Magnus, formerly Emily Preen, and their 
late father's sister, did not welcome them warmly. 
She lived in style herself, one of the leading stars in 
the society of Tours ; and she did not at all like that 
two middle-aged nieces, of straitened means, should 
take up their abode in the next street. So Mrs. 
Magnus met her nieces with the assurance that Tours 
would not do for them ; it was too expensive a place ; 
they would be swamped in it. Mrs. Magnus was 
drawing near to the close of her life then ; had she 
known it, she might have been kinder, and let them 
remain ; but she was not able to foresee the hour of 
that great event which must happen to us all any 



6 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

more than other people are. Oliver Preen was with 
her then, revelling in the sunny days which were 
flitting away on gossamer wings. 

'^ Lavinia, do you think we can stay at Tours ? " 
' The Miss Preens had descended at a fourth-rate 
hotel, picked out of the guide-book. When Ann asked 
this question, they were sitting after dinner in the 
table d'hote room, their feet on the sanded floor. 
Sanded floors were quite usual at that time in many 
parts of France. 

'' Stay here to put up with Aunt Emily's pride and 
insolence ! " quickly answered Miss Preen. '' No. I 
will tell you what I have done, Ann. I wrote yester- 
day to Mary Carimon, asking her about Sainteville; 
whether she thinks it will suit us, and so on. As 
soon as her answer comes — she's certain to say yes — 
we will go, dear, and leave Mrs. Magnus to her 
grandeur. And, once we are safe away, I shall ivrite 
her a letter,'' added Lavinia, in decisive tones; ^'a 
letter which she won't like." 

Madame Carimon's answer came by return of post. 
It was as cordial as herself.. Sainteville would be the 
very place for them, she said, and she should count 
the hours until they were there. 

The Miss Preens turned their backs upon Tours, 
shaking its dust off* their shoes. Lavinia had a little 
nest of accumulated mone}", so was at ease in that 
respect. And when the evening of the following day 
the railway terminus at Sainteville was reached, the 
pleasant, smiling face of Mary Carimon was the first 
they saw outside the barriere. She must have been 
nearly forty now, but she did not look a day older 
than when she had left Butter mead. Miss Lavinia 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 7 

was a year or two older than Mary ; Miss Ann a year 
or two younger. 

^'Yoii must put up at the Hotel des Princes/' re- 
marked Madame Carimon. " It is the only really good 
one in the town. They won t charge you too much ; 
my husband has spoken to the landlady. And you 
must spend to-morrow with me." 

The hotel omnibus was waiting for them and other 
passengers, the luggage was piled on the roof, and 
Madame Carimon accompanied them to the hotel. A 
handsome hotel, the sisters thought ; quite another 
thing from the one at Tours. Mary Carimon intro- 
duced them to the landlady, Madame Podevin, saw 
them seated down to tea and a cold fowl, and then 
left for the night. 

With Sainteville the Miss Preens were simply 
charmed. It was a fresh, clean town, with wide 
streets, and good houses and old families, and some 
bright shops. The harbour was large, and the pier 
extended out to the open sea. 

" I should like to live here ! '' exclaimed Miss 
Lavinia, sitting down at Madame Carimon's, in a state 
of rapture. '' I never saw such a nice town, or such a 
lovely market." 

They had been about all the morning with Madame 
Carimon. It was market-day, Wednesday. The 
market was held on the Grande Place; and the 
delicious butter, the eggs, the fresh vegetables, the 
flowers and the poultrj^, took Miss Lavinia's heart by 
storm. Nancy was more taken with the picturesque 
market-women, in their white caps and long gold ear- 
rings. Other ladies were doing their marketing as 
well as Madame Carimon. She spoke to most of 



8 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

them, in French or in English, as the case might be. 
Under the able tuition of her husband, she talked 
French fluently now. 

Madame Carimon's habitation — very nice, small and 
compact — was in the Rue Pomme Cuite. The streets 
have queer names in some of these old French towns. 
It was near the college, which was convenient for 
Monsieur Carimon. Here they lived, with their 
elderly servant, Pauline. The same routine went on 
daily in the steady little domicile from year s end to 
year's end. 

" Jules goes to the college at eight o'clock every 
week-day, after a cup of coffee and a petit pain," said 
madame to her guests, "and he returns at five to 
dinner. He takes his dejeuner in the college at 
twelve, and I take mine alone at home. On Sundays 
he has no duty: we attend the French Protestant 
Church in a morning, dine at one o'clock, and go for a 
walk in the afternoon." 

*' You have no children, Mary ? " 

Mary Carimon's lively face turned sad as she 
answered : '' There Avas one little one ; she stayed 
with us six months, and then God took her. I wrote 
to you of it, you know, Lavinia. No, we have not any 
children. Best not, Jules says ; and I agree with him. 
They might only leave us when we have learnt to love 
them ; and that's a trial hard to bear. Best as it is." 

"I'm sure I should never learn to speak French, 
though we lived here for a century," exclaimed Miss 
Lavinia. '' Only to hear you jabbering to your servant, 
Mary, quite distracts one's ears." 

" Yes, you would. You would soon pick up enough 
to be understood in the shops and at market." 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 9 

At five o'clock, home came Monsieur Carimon. He 
welcomed the Miss Preens with honest, genuine 
pleasure, interspersed Avith a little French ceremony ; 
making them about a dozen bows apiece before he 
met the hands held out to him. 

They had quite a gala dinner. Soup to begin with 
— broth, the English ladies inwardly pronounced it — 
and then fish. A small cod, bought by Madame 
Carimon at the fish-market in the morning, with 
oyster sauce. Ten sous she had given for the cod, for 
she knew how to bargain now, and six sous for a 
dozen oysters, as large as a five-franc piece. This was 
followed by a delicious little fricandeau of veal, and 
that by a tarte a la creme from the pastrycook's. She 
told her guests unreservedly what all the dishes cost, 
to show them how reasonably people might live at 
Sainteville. 

Over the coffee, after dinner, the question of their 
settling in the place was fully gone into, for the 
benefit of Monsieur Carimon's opinions, who gave 
them in good English. 

" Depend upon it, Lavinia, you could not do better," 
remarked Mary Carimon. " If you cannot make your 
income do here, you cannot anywhere." 

" We want to make it do well ; not to betray our 
poverty, but to be able to maintain a fairly good 
appearance," said Lavinia. ''You understand me, I 
am sure, monsieur." 

'' But certainly, mademoiselle," he answered ; " it 
is what we all like to do at Sainteville, I reckon." 

''And can do, if we are provident," added madame. 
" French ways are not English ways. Our own income 
is small, Lavinia, yet we put by out of it." 



10 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

''A fact that goes without saying/' confirmed the 
pleasant little man. "If we did not put by, where 
would ■'my wife be when I am no longer able to 
work ? " 

"Provisions being so cheap What did you 

say, Nancy ? " asked Madame Carimon, interrupting 
herself. 

" I was going to say that I could live upon oysters, 
and should like to," replied Nancy, shaking back her 
flaxen curls with a laugh. "Half-a-dozen of those 
great big oysters would make me a lovely dinner any 
day — and the cost would be only three halfpence/' 

*' And only fivepence the cost of that beautiful fish," 
put in her sister. " In Sainteville our income would 
amply suffice." 

''It seems to me that it would, mesdemoiselles,'' 
observed Monsieur Carimon. "Three thousand five 
hundred francs yearly ! We French should think it a 
sufficient sum. Doubtless much would depend upon 
the way in which you laid it out." 

" What should we have to pay for lodgings, Mary ? " 
inquired Lavinia. " Just a nice sitting-room and two 
small bedrooms ; or a large room with two beds in it ; 
and to be waited on ? " 

" Oh, you won't find that at Sainteville," was the 
unexpected answer. "Nobody lets lodgings English 
fashion : it's not the custom over here. You can find 
a furnished apartment, but the people will not wait 
upon you. There is always a little kitchen let with 
the rooms, and you must have your own servant." 

It was the first check the ladies had received. They 
sat thinking. " Dear me ! " exclaimed Nancy. " No 
lodgings ! " 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 11 

''Would the apartments you speak of be very 
dear ? " asked Lavinia. 

"That depends upon the number of rooms and 
the situation/' replied Madame Carimon. " I cannot 
call to mind just now any small apartment that is 
vacant. If you like, we will go to-morrow and look 
about." 

It was so arranged. And little Monsieur Carimon 
attended the ladies back to the Hotel des Princes at 
the sober hour of nine, and bowed them into the porte 
cochere with two sweeps of his hat, wishing them the 
good-evening and the very good-night. 



II 

Thursday morning. Nancy Preen awoke with a 
sick headache, and could not get up. But in the 
afternoon, when she was better, they went to Mary 
Carimon's, and all three set out to look for an apart- 
ment — not meeting with great success. 

All they saw were too large, and priced accordingly. 
There was one, indeed, in the Rue Lamar tine, which 
suited as to size, but the rooms were inconvenient and 
stuffy ; and there was another small one on the Grande 
Place, dainty and desirable, but the rent was very 
high. Madame Carimon at once offered the landlord 
half-price, French custom: she dealt at his shop for 
her groceries. No, no, he answered; his apartment 
was the nicest in the town for its size, as mesdames 
saw, and it was in the best situation — and not a single 
sou would the worthy grocer abate. 



12 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

They were growing tired, then ; and five o'clock, 
the universal hour at Saint eville for dinner, was 
approaching. 

"Come round to me after dinner, and we will talk 
it over,'' said Mary Carimon, when they parted. " I 
will give you a cup of tea." 

They dined at the table d'hote, which both of them 
thought charming, and then proceeded to the Kue 
Pomme Cuite. Monsieur Carimon was on the point of 
going out, to spend an hour at the Cafe Pillaud, but 
he put down his hat to wait awhile, out of respect to 
the ladies. They told him about not having found an 
apartment to suit them. 

" Of course we have not searched all parts of the 
town, only the most likely ones," said Madame 
Carimon. ^^ There are large apartments to be had, 
but no small ones. We can search again to-morrow." 

"I suppose there's not a little house to be had 
cheap, if we cannot find an apartment ? " cried Miss 
Nancy, who was in love with Sainteville, and had set 
her heart upon remaining there. 

" Tiens," quickly spoke Monsieur Ccirimon in French 
to his wife, " there's the Petite Maison Rouge belong- 
ing to Madame Veuve Sauvage, in the Place Ronde. It 
is still to let : I saw the affiche in the shop window 
to-day. What do you think of it, Marie ? " 

Madame Carimon did not seem to know quite what 
to think. She looked at her husband, then at the 
eager faces of her two friends ; but she did not speak. 

About half-way down the Rue Tessin, a busy street 
leading to the port, was a wide opening, giving on to 
the Place Ronde. The Place Ronde agreed with its 
name, for it was somewhat in form of a horseshoe. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY, 13 

Some fifteen or sixteen substantial houses were built 
round it, each having a shop for its basement ; and 
trees, green and feathery, were scattered about, afford- 
ing a slight though pleasant shelter from the hot sun 
in summer weather. 

The middle house at the bottom of the Place Rondo, 
exactly facing the opening from the Rue Tessin, was a 
very conspicuous house indeed, inasmuch as it was 
painted red, whilst the other houses were white. All 
of them had green persienne shutters to the upper 
windows. The shop, a large one, belonging to this 
red house was that of the late Monsieur Jean Sauvage, 
''Marchand de Vin en gros et en detail," as the 
announcement over his door used to run in the later 
years of his life. But when Jean Sauvage commenced 
business, in that same shop, it was only as a retail 
vendor. Casting about in his mind one day for some 
means by which his shop might be diatinguished from 
other wine-shops and attract customers, he hit upon 
the plan of painting the house red. No sooner thought 
of than done. A painter was called, who converted 
the white walls into a fiery vermilion, and stretched a 
board across the upper part, between the windows of 
the first and second floors, on which appeared in large 
letters '' A la Maison Rouge." 

"Whether this sort of advertisement drew the public, 
or whether it might have been the sterling respectability 
and devotion to business of Monsieur Sauvage, he got 
on most successfully. The Marchand en detail became 
also Marchand en gros, and in course of time he added 
liqueurs to his wines. No citizen of Sainteville was 
more highly esteemed than he, both as a man and a 
tradesman. Since his death the business had been 



14 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

carried on by his widow, aided by the two sons, 
Gustave and Emile. Latterly Madame Veuve Sauvage 
had given np all work to them ; she was now in years, 
and had well earned her rest. They lived in the 
rooms over the shop, which were large and handsome. 
In former days, when the energies of herself and her 
husband were chiefly devoted to acquiring and saving 
money, they had let these upper rooms for a good sum 
yearly. Old Madame Sauvage might be seen any 
day now sitting at a front-window, looking out 
upon the world between her embroidered white 
curtains. 

The door of this prosperous shop was between the 
two windows. The one window displayed a few 
bottles of wine, most of them in straw cases ; in the 
other window were clear flacons of liqueurs : chartreuse, 
green and yellow ; curagoa, warm and ruby ; eau de 
vie de Danzick, with its fluttering gold leaf; and 
many other sorts. 

However, it is not with the goods of Madame Veuve 
Sauvage that we have to do, but with her premises. 
Standing in front of the shop, as if coveting a bottle 
of that choice wine for to-day's dinner, or an imme- 
diate glass of delicious liqueur, you may see on your 
right hand, but to the left of the shop, the private 
door of the house. On the other side the shop is also 
a door which opens to a narrow entry. The entry 
looks dark, even in the mid-day sun, for it is pretty 
long, extending down a portion of the side of the 
Maison Kouge, which is a deep house, and terminating 
in a paved yard surrounded by high buildings. At 
the end of the yard is a small dwelling, with two 
modern windows, one above the other. Near the 



FEATHERSTON'S STOBY. 15 

under window is the entrance-door, painted oak 
colour, with a brass knob, a bell-wire with a curious 
handle, and a knocker. This little house the late 
Monsieur Sauvage had also caused to be converted 
into a red one, the same as the larger. 

In earlier days, when Jean Sauvage and his wife 
were putting their shoulders to the wheel, they had 
lived in the little house with their children ; the two 
sons and the daughter, Jeanne. Jeanne Sauvage 
married early and very well, an avocat. But since 
they had left it, the house in the yard seemed to 
have been, as the Widow Sauvage herself expressed 
it, unlucky. The first of the tenants had died 
there; the second had disappeared — decamped in 
fact, to avoid paying rent and other debts; the 
third had moved into ^a better house; and the 
fourth, an old widow lady, had also died, owing a 
year s rent to Madame Sauvage, and leaving no money 
to pay it. 

It was of this small dwelling, lying under the 
shadow of the Maison Rouge, that Monsieur Carimon 
had thought. Turning to the Miss Preens, he gave 
them briefly a few particulars, and said he believed 
the house was to be had on very reasonable terms. 

'' What do you call it ? " exclaimed Lavinia. " The 
little red house ? " 

''Yes, we call it so," said Monsieur Carimon. 
'' Emile Sauvage was talking of it to me the other 
evening at the cafe, saying they would be glad to 
have it tenanted." 

" I fear our good friends here would find it dull,'' 
remarked Madame Carimon to him. ^'It is in so 
gloomy a situation, you know, Jules," 



16 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' Mon amie, I do not myself see how that signifies," 
said he in reply. " If your house is comfortable inside, 
does it matter what it looks out upon ? " 

"Very true," assented Miss Lavinia, whose hopes 
had gone up again. '' But this house may not be 
furnished, Mary." 

"It is partly furnished," said Madame Carimon. 
" When the old lady who was last in it died, they had 
to take her furniture for the rent. It was not much, 
I have heard." 

" We should not want much, only two of us," cried 
Miss Ann eagerly. " Do let us go to look at it to- 
morrow ! " 

On the following day, Friday, the Miss Preens went 
to the Place Ronde, piloted by Mary Carimon. They 
were struck with admiration at the Maison Rouge, all 
a fiery glow in the morning sun, and a novelty to 
English eyes. Whilst Madame Carimon went into the 
shop to explain and ask for the key, the sisters gazed 
in at the windows. Lying on the wine-bottles was 
a small black board on which w^as written in white 
letters, " Petite Maison a louer." 

Monsieur Gustavo Sauvage, key in hand, saluted the 
ladies in English, which he spoke fairly well, and accom- 
panied them to view the house. The sun was very 
bright that day, and the confined yard did not look so 
dull as at a less favourable time; and perhaps the 
brilliant red of the little house, at which Nancy 
laughed, imparted a cheerfulness to it. Monsieur 
Gustavo opened the door with a latch-key, drew back, 
and waited for them to enter. 

The first to do so, or to attempt to do so, was Miss 
Preen. But no sooner had she put one foot over the 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. it 

threshold than she drew back with a start, somewhat 
discomposing the others by the movement. 

" What is it, Lavinia ? '' inquired Ann. 

''Something seemed to startle me, and throw me 
backward ! " exclaimed Lavinia Preen, regaining her 
breath. '' Perhaps it was the gloom of the passage : 
it is very dark.'' 

''Pardon, mesdames," spoke Monsieur Gustavo 
politely. " If the ladies will forgive my entering 
before them, I will open the salon door/' 

The passage was narrow. The broad shoulders of 
Monsieur Gustavo almost touched the wall on either 
side as he walked along. Almost at the other end of 
it, on his left hand, was the salon door ; he threw it 
open, and a little light shone forth. The passage 
terminated in a small square recess. At the back of 
this was fixed a shallow marble slab for holding things, 
above which was a cupboard let into the wall. On 
the right of the recess was the staircase ; and opposite 
the staircase the kitchen-door, the kitchen being behind 
the salon. 

The salon was nice when they were in it ; the 
paint was fresh, the paper light and handsome. It 
was of good size, and its large window looked to the 
front. The kitchen opened upon a small back-yard, 
furnished with a pump and a shed for wood or coal. 
On the floor above were two very good chambers, one 
behind the other. Opposite these, on the other side of 
the passage, was another room, not so large, but of 
fair size. It was apparently built out over some part 
of the next-door premises, and was lighted by a sky- 
light. All the rooms were fresh and good, and the 
passa^ge had a window at the end. 

Johnny Ludlow.— V. 2 



IB JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Altogether it was not an inconvenient abode for 
people who did not go in for show. The furniture 
was plain, clean and useful, but it would have to be 
added to. There were no grates, not even a cooking- 
stove in the kitchen. It was very much the Sainteville 
custom at that period for tenants to provide grates for 
themselves, plenty of which could be bought or hired 
for a small sum. An easy- chair or two would be 
needed ; tea-cups and saucers and wine-glasses ; and 
though there were washing-stands, these contained no 
jugs or basins ; and there v/ere no sheets or table- 
cloths or towels, no knives or forks, no brooms or 
brushes, and so on. 

" There is only this one sitting-room, you perceive," 
remarked Madame Carimon, as they turned about, 
looking at the salon again, after coming downstairs. 

" Yes, that's a pity, on account of dining," replied 
Miss Nancy. 

'' One of our tenants made a pretty salon of the 
room above this, and this the salle a manger," replied 
Monsieur Gustave. '' Mesdames might like to do the 
same, possibly ? '' 

He had pointedly addressed Miss Lavinia, near 
whom he stood. She did not answer. In fact — it was 
a very curious thing, but a fact — Miss Lavinia had not 
spoken a word since she entered. She had gone 
through the house taking in its features in complete 
silence, just as if that shock at the door had scared 
away her speech. 

The rent asked by Monsieur Gustave, acting for his 
mother, was very moderate indeed — twenty pounds 
a-year, including the use of the furniture. There 
would be no taxes to pay, he said ; absolutely none ; 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 19 

the taxes of this little house, being upon their premises, 
were included in their own. But to ensure this low 
rental, the house must be taken for five years. 

'' Of course we will take it — won't we, Lavinia ? " 
cried Miss Ann in a loud whisper. " Only twenty 
pounds a-year ! Just think of it ! " 

"Sir," Miss Lavinia said to Monsieur Gustave, 
speaking at last, "the house would suit us in some 
respects, especially as regards rent. But we might 
find it too lonely : and I should hardly like to be 
bound for five years." 

All that was of course for mesdames' consideration, 
he frankly responded. But he thought that if the 
ladies were established in it with their menage about 
them, they would not find it lonely. 

" We will give you an answer to-morrow or Monday," 
decided Miss Lavinia. 

They went about the town all that day with 
Madame Carimon; but nothing in the shape of an 
apartment could be found to suit them. Madame 
invited them again to tea in the evening. And by 
that time they had decided to take the house. Nancy 
was wild about it. What with the change from the 
monotony of their country house to the bright and 
busy streets, the gay outdoor life, the delights of the 
table d'h6te, Ann Preen looked upon Sainteville as an 
earthly paradise. 

" The house is certainly more suited to you than 
anything else we have seen," observed Madame Cari- 
mon. "I have nothing to say against the Petite 
Maison Rouge, except its dull situation." 

" Did it strike yoit, Mary, apart from its situation, as 
being gloomy ? " asked Lavinia. 



20 JOHNNY LUDLOW. - 

''No. Once you are in the rooms they are cheerful 
enough." 

" It did me. Gloomy, with a peculiar gloom, you 
understand. I'm sure the passage was dark as night. 
It must have been its darkness that startled me as we 
were going in." 

"By the way, Lavinia, what was the matter with 
you then ? '* interrupted her sister. 

"I don't know, Nancy; I said at the time I did 
not know. With my first step into the passage, 
some horror, seemed to meet me and drive me back- 
ward." 

'' Some horror ! " repeated Nancy. 

"I seemed to feel it so. I had still the glare of the 
streets and the fiery red walls in my eyes, which must 
have caused the house passage to look darker than it 
ought. That was all, I suppose— but it turned me sick 
with a sort of fear ; sick and shivery." 

" That salon may be made as pretty a room as any 
in Sainteville," remarked Madame Carimon. " Many 
of the English residents here have only one salon in 
their apartments. You see, we don't go in for 
ceremony ; France is not like England." 

On the morrow the little house under the wing of 
the Maison Rouge was secured by the Miss Preens. 
They took it in their joint names for five years. To 
complete the transaction they were ushered upstairs 
to the salon and presence of Madame Veuve Sauvage 
— a rather stately looking old lady, attired in a 
voluminous black silk robe and a mourning cap of fine 
muslin. Madame, who could not speak a syllable of 
English, conversed graciously witli her future tenants 
through the interpretation of Mary Carimon, offering 



FEATHEKSTON'S STORY. 21 

to be useful to them in any way she could. Lavinia 
and Ann Preen both signed the bail, or agreement, 
and Madame Veuve Sauvage likewise signed it; by 
virtue of which she became their landlady, and they 
her tenants of the little house for five years. Madame 
Carimon, and a shopman who came upstairs for the 
purpose, signed as witnesses. 

Wine and the little cakes called pistolets were then 
introduced ; and so the bargain was complete. 

Oh if some kindly spirit from the all- seeing world 
above could only have whispered a hint to those ill- 
fated sisters of what they were doing ! — had only 
whispered a warning in time to prevent it ! Might 
not that horror, which fell upon Lavinia as she was 
about to pass over the door-sill, have served her as 
such ? But who regards these warnings when they 
come to us ? Who personally applies them ? None. 

Having purchased or hired the additional things 
required, the Miss Preens took possession of their 
house. Nancy had the front bed-chamber, which 
Lavinia thought rather the best, and so gave it up to 
her; Lavinia took the back one. The one opposite, 
with the skylight, remained unoccupied, as their 
servant did not sleep in the house. Not at all an 
uncommon custom at Sainteville. 

An excellent servant had been found for them in the 
person of Flore Pamart, a widow, who was honest, 
cooked well, and could talk away in English ; all 
recommendations that the ladies liked. Flore let her- 
self in with a latch-key before breakfast, and left 
as soon after five o'clock in the evening as she could 
get the dinner things removed. Madame Flore 
Pamart had one little boy named Dion, who went to 



22 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

school by day, but was at home night and morning ; 
for Yv^hich reason his mother could only take a daily 
service. 

Thus the Miss Preens became part of the small 
colony of English at Sainteville. They took sittings 
in the English Protestant Church, which was not 
much more than a room ; and they subscribed to the 
casino on the port when it opened for the summer 
season, spending many an evening there, listening to 
the music, watching the dancing when there was any, 
and chattering with the acquaintances they met. 
They were well regarded, these new-comers, and they 
began to speak French after a fashion. Now and then 
they went out to a soiree ; once in a way gave one in 
return. Very sober soirees indeed were those of Sainte- 
ville ; consisting (as Sam Weller might inform us) of 
tea at seven o'clock with hot galette, conversation, 
cake at ten (gateau Suisse or gateau au rhum), and 
a glass of Picardin wine. 

They were pleased with the house, once they had 
settled down in it, and never a shadow of regret 
crossed either of them for having taken the Petite 
Maison Rouge. 

In this way about a twelvemonth wore on. 



III. 

It was a fine morning at the beginning of April ; the 
sun being particularly welcome, as Sainteville had 
latterly been favoured with a spell of ill-natured, bitter 
east winds. About eleven o'clock, Miss Preen and her 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 23 

sister turned out of their house to take a walk on the 
pier — which they liked to do most days, wind and 
weather permitting. In going down the Rue des 
Arbres, they were met by a fresh-looking little elderly 
gentleman, with rather long white hair, and wearing 
a white necktie. He stopped to salute the ladies, 
bowing ceremoniously low to each of them. It was 
Monsieur le Docteur Dupuis, a kindly man of skilful 
reputation, who had now mostly, though not altogether, 
given up practice to his son. Monsieur Henri Dupuis. 
Miss Lavinia had a little acquaintance with the doctor, 
and took occasion to ask him news of the public 
welfare ; for there was raging in the town the malady 
called "la grippe," which, being interpreted, means 
influenza. 

. It was not much better at present. Monsieur Dupuis 
answered; but this genial sunshine he hoped would 
begin to drive it away; and, with another bow, he 
passed onward. 

The pier was soon reached, and they enjoyed their 
walk upon it. The sunlight glinted on the rather 
turbulent waves of the sea in the distance, but there 
was not much breeze to be felt on land. When nearing 
the end of the pier their attention was attracted to a 
fishing-boat, which was tumbling about rather unac- 
countably in its efforts to make the harbour. 

"It almost looks from here as though it had lost its 
rudder, Nancy," remarked Miss Lavinia. 

They halted, and stood looking over the side at 
the object of interest ; not particularly noticing that 
a gentleman stood near them, also looking at the same 
through an opera-glass. He was spare, of middle 
height and middle age; his hair was grey, his face 



24 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

pale and impassive ; the light over-coat he wore was 
of fashionable English cut. 

^' Oh, Lavinia, look, look ! It is coming right on to 
the end of the pier/' cried Ann Preen. 

''Hush, Nancy, don't excite yourself," said Miss 
Lavinia, in lowered tones. *' It will take care not to 
do that." 

The gentleman gave a wary glance at them. He 
saw two ladies dressed alike, in handsome black 
velvet mantles, and bonnets with violet feathers; 
by which he judged them to be sisters, though there 
was no resemblance in face. The elder had clear-cut 
features, a healthy colour, dark brown hair, worn 
plain, and a keen, sensible expression. The other 
was fair, with blue eyes and light ringlets. 

''Pardon me," he said, turning to them, and his 
accent was that of a gentleman. '' May I offer you 
the use of my glasses ? " 

'' Oh, thank you ! " exclaimed Nancy, in a light 
tone bordering on a giggle; and she accepted the 
glasses. She was evidently pleased with the offer 
and with the stranger. 

Lavinia, on the contrary, was not. The moment 
she saw his full face she shrank from it — shrank from 
him. The feeling might have been as unaccountable 
as that which came over her when she had been first 
entering the Petite Maison Rouge ; but it was there. 
However, she put it from her, and thanked him. 

'' I don't think I see so well with the glasses as 
without them ; it seems all a mist," remarked Nancy, 
who was standing next the stranger. 

'' They are not properly focused for you. Allow 
me," said he, as he took the glasses from her to alter 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 25 

them. " Young eyes need a less powerful focus than 
elderly ones like mine." 

He spoke in a laughing tone ; Nancy, fond of 
compliments, giggled outright this time. She was 
approaching forty; he might have been ten years 
older. They continued standing there, watching the 
fishing-boat, and exchanging remarks at intervals. 
When it had made the harbour without accident, the 
Miss Preens wished him good-morning, and went back 
down the pier; he took off his hat to them, and 
walked the other way. 

" What a charming man ! " exclaimed Nancy, when 
they were at a safe distance.' 

" I don't like him," dissented Lavinia. 

" Not like him ! " echoed the other in surprise. 
<' Why, Lavinia, his manners are delightful. I wonder 
who he is ? " 

When nearly home, in turning into the Place 
Eonde, they met an English lady of their acquaint- 
ance, the wife of Major Smith. She had been order- 
ing a dozen of vin Picardin from the Maison Rouge. 
As they stood talking together, the gentleman of the 
pier passed up the Rue de Tessin. He lifted his hat, 
and they all, including Mrs. Smith, bowed. 
! "Do you know him ? " quickly asked Nancy, in a 
whisper. 

i " Hardly that/' answered Mrs. Smith. " When we 
were passing the Hotel des Princes this morning, a 
gentleman turned out of the courtyard, and he and 
my husband spoke to one another. The major said 
to me afterwards that he had formerly been in the 
■ — I forget which — regiment. He called him Mr. 
Fennel." 



26 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

]^ow, as ill-fortune had it, Miss Preen found herself 
very poorly after she got home. She began to sneeze 
and cough, and thought she must have taken cold 
through standing on the pier to watch the vagaries 
of the fishing-smack. 

" I hope you are not going to have the influenza ! " 
cried Nancy, her blue eyes wide with concern. 

But the influenza it proved to be. Miss Preen 
seemed about to have it badly, and lay in bed the 
next day. Nancy proposed to send Flore for Mon- 
sieur Dupuis, but Lavinia said she knew how to treat 
herself as well as he could treat her. 

The next day she was no better. Poor Nancy had 
to go out alone, or to stay indoors. She did not like 
doing the latter at all ; it was too dull ; her own 
inclination would have led her abroad all day long 
and every day. 

"I saw Captain Fennel on the pier again,'' said 
she to her sister that afternoon, when she was making 
the tea at Lavinia's bedside, Flore having carried up 
the tray. 

'' I hope you did not talk to him, Ann," spoke the 
invalid, as well as she could articulate. 

"I talked a little," said Nancy, turning hot, con- 
scious that she had gossiped Avith him for three- 
quarters-of-an-hour. " He stopped to speak to me ; I 
could not walk on rudely." 

''Any way, don't talk to him again, my dear. I do 
not like that man." 

'' What is there to dislike in him, Lavinia ? " 

"That I can't say. His countenance is not a good 
one; it is shifty and deceitful. He is a man you 
could never trust." 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 27. 

"I'm sure IVe heard you say the same of other 
people." 

" Because I can read faces/' returned Lavinia. 

'' Oh — well — I consider Captain Fennel's is a hand- 
some face," debated Nancy. 

<• Why do you call him ' Captain ' ? " 

" He calls himself so/' answered Nancy. '' I suppose 
it was his rank in the army when he retired. They 
retain it afterwards by courtesy, don't they, Lavinia ? " 

"I am not sure. It depends upon whether they 
retire in rotation or sell out, I fancy. Mrs. Smith 
said the major called him Mr. Fennel, and he ought 
to know. There, I can't talk any more, Nancy, and 
the man is nothing to us, that we need discuss him." 

La grippe had taken rather sharp hold of Lavinia 
Preen, and she was upstairs for ten days. On the 
first afternoon she went down to the salon. Captain 
Fennel called, very much to her surprise ; and, also to 
her surprise, he and Nancy appeared to be pretty 
intimate. 

In point of fact, they had met every day, generally 
upon the pier. Nancy had said nothing about it at 
home. She was neither sly nor deceitful in disposition; 
rather notably simple and unsophisticated ; but, after 
Lavinia's reproof the first time she told about meeting 
him, she would not tell again. 

Miss Preen behaved coolly to him ; which he would 
not appear to see. She sat over the fire, wrapped 
in a shawl, for it was a cold afternoon. He stayed 
only a little time, and put his card down on the slab 
near the, stairs when he left. Lavinia had it brought 
to her. 

''Mr. Edwin Fennel." 



28 JOHNNY LUDLOW. - 

^'Then he is not Captain Fennel/' she observed. 
'' But, Nancy, what in the world could have induced 
the man to call here ? And how is it you seem to be 
familiar with him ? " 

"I have met him out-of-doors, sometimes, while you 
were ill," said Nancy. ''As to his calling here — he 
came, I suppose, out of politeness. There's no harm 
in it, Lavinia." 

Miss Lavinia did not say there was. But she dis- 
liked the man too much to favour his acquaintanceship. 
Instinct warned her against him. 

How little was she prepared for what was to follow! 
Before she was well out-of-doors again, before she had 
been anywhere except to church, Nancy gave her 
a shock. With no end of simperings and blushings, 
she confessed that she had been asked to marry 
Captain Fennel. 

Had Miss Lavinia Preen been herself politely asked 
to marry a certain gentleman popularly supposed to 
reside underground, she would not have been much 
more indignantly startled. Perhaps ^' frightened " 
would be the better word for it. 

'' But — you would not, Nancy ! " she gasped, when 
she found her voice. 

''I don't know," simpered foolish Nancy. ''I — I — 
think him very nice and gentlemanly, Lavinia." 

Lavinia came out of her fright sufficiently to reason. 
She strove to show Nancy how utterly unwise such a 
step would be. They knew nothing of Captain Fennel 
or his antecedents ; to become his wife might just be 
courting misery and destruction. Nancy ceased to 
argue ; and Lavinia hoped she had yielded. 

Both sisters kept a diary. But for that fact, and 



FEATHEESTON'S STORY. 29 

also that the diaries were preserved, Featherston could 
not have arrived at the details of the story so perfectly. 
About this time, a trifle earlier or later, Ann Preen 
wrote as follows in hers : 

''April 16tL — I met Captain Fennel on the pier 
again this morning. I do think he goes there because 
he knows he may meet me. Lavinia is not out yet ; 
she has not quite got rid of that Grip, as they stupidly 
call it here. I'm sure it has gripped her. We walked 
quite to the end of the pier, and then I sat down on 
the edge for a little while, and he stood talking to me. 
I do wish I could tell Lavinia of these meetings ; but 
she was so cross the first day I met him, and told her 
of it, that I don't like to. Captain Fennel lent me his 
glasses as usual, and I looked at the London steamer, 
which was coming in. Somehow we fell to talking of 
the Smiths; he said they were poor, had not much 
more than the majors half-pay. 'Not like you rich 
people. Miss Nancy,' he said — he thinks that's my 
right name. 'Your income is different from theirs.' 
' Oh,' I screamed out, ' why, it's only a hundred and 
forty pounds a-year ! ' * Well,' he answered, smiling, 
* that's a comfortable sum for a place like this; five 
francs will buy as much at Sainteville as half-a- 
sovereign will in England.' Which is pretty nearly 
true." 

Skipping a few entries of little importance, we come 
to another : 

" May 1st, and such a lovely day ! — It reminds me 
of one May-day at home, when the Jacks-in-the-green 
were dancing on the grass-plot before the Court 
windows at Buttermead, and Mrs. Selby sat watching 
them, as pleased as they were, saying she should like 



30 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

to dance, too, if she could only go first to the mill to 
be ground young again. Jane and Edith Peckham 
were spending the day with us. It was just such 
a day as this, warm and bright ; light, fleecy clouds 
flitting across the blue sky. I wish Lavinia were out 
to enjoy it ! but she is hardly strong enough for long 
walks yet, and only potters about, when she does get 
out, in the Kue des Arbres or the Grande Place, or 
perhaps over to see Mary Carimon. 

'*' I don't know what to do. I lay awake all last 
night, and sat moping yesterday, thinking what I 
could do. Edwin wants me to marry him ; I told 
Lavinia, and she absolutely forbids it, saying I should 
rush upon misery. He says I should be happy as the 
day's long. I feel like a distracted lunatic, not knowing 
which of them is right, or which opinion I ought to 
yield to. I have obeyed Lavinia all my life ; we have 
never had a difference before ; her wishes have been 
mine, and mine have been hers. But I cant see why 
she need have taken up this prejudice against him, 
for I'm sure he's more like an angel than a man ; and, 
as he whispers to me, Nancy Fennel would be a 
prettier name than Nancy Preen. I said to him to- 
day, ' My name is Ann, not really Nancy.' ' My dear,' 
he answered, ' I shall always call you Nancy ; I love 
the simple name.' 

''I no longer talk about him to Lavinia, or let her 
suspect that we still meet on the pier. It would make 
her angry, and I can't bear that. I dare not hint to 
her what Edwin said to-day — that he should take 
matters into his own hands. He means to go over to 
Dover, via Calais ; stay at Dover a fortnight, as the 
marriage law requires, and then come back to fetch 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 31 

me ; and after the marriage has taken place we shall 
return here to live. 

'•' Oh dear, what am I to do ? It will be a dreadful 
thing to deceive Lavinia; and it will be equally 
dreadful to lose Itmi, He declares that if I do no-t 
agree to this he shall set sail for India (where he used 
to be with his regiment), and never, never see me again. 
Good gracious ! never to see me again ! 

" The worst is, he wants to go off to Dover at once, 
giving one no time for consideration ! Must I say- 
Yes, or No ? The uncertainty shakes me to pieces. He 
laughed to-day when I said something of this, assuring 
me Lavinia's anger would pass away like a summer 
cloud when I was his wife ; that sisters had no 
authority over one another, and that Lavinia's opposi- 
tion arose from selfishness only, because she did not 
want to lose me. 'Risk it, Nancy/ said he ; ' she will 
receive you with open arms when I bring you back 
from Dover.' If I could only think so ! Now and then 
I feel inclined to confide my dilemma to Mary Carimon, 
and ask her opinion, only that I fear she might tell 
Lavinia." 

Mr. Edwin Fennel quitted Sainteville. When he 
was missed people thought he might have gone for 
good. But one Saturday morning some time onwards, 
when the month of May was drawing towards its close, 
Miss Lavinia, out with Nancy at market, came full 
upon Captain Fennel in the crowd on the Gi'ande 
Place. He held out his hand. 

''I thought you had left Sainteville, Mr. Fennel," 
she remarked, meeting his hand and the sinister look 
in his face unwillingly. 



32 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' Got back this morning/' he said ; '' travelled by- 
night. Shall be leaving again to-day or to-morrow. 
How are you, Miss Nancy ? '' ' 

Lavinia pushed her way to the nearest poultry stall. 
*' Will you come here, Ann ? '' she said. " I want to 
choose a fowl." 

She began to bargain, half in French, half in English, 
with the poultry man, all to get rid of that other man, 
and she looked round, expecting Nancy had followed 
her. Nancy had not stirred from the spot near the 
butter-baskets : she and Captain Fennel had their 
heads together, he talking hard and fast. 

They saw Lavinia looking at them ; looking angry, 
too. ^'Kemember," impressively whispered Captain 
Fennel to Nancy : and, lifting his hat to Lavinia, over 
the white caps of the market-women, he disappeared 
across the Place. 

" I wonder what that man has come back for ? '* 
cried Miss Preen, as Nancy reached her — not that she 
had any suspicion. '' And I wonder you should stay 
talking with him, Nancy ! " 

Nancy did not answer. 

Sending Flore — who had attended them with her 
market-basket — home with the fowl and eggs and 
vegetables, they called at the butchers and the 
grocer's, and then went home themselves. Miss 
Preen then remembered that she had forgotten one 
or two things, and must go out again. Nancy 
remained at home. When Lavinia returned, which 
was not for an hour, for she had met various friends 
and stayed to gossip, her sister was in her room. 
Flore thought Mademoiselle Nancy was setting her 
drawers to rights : she had heard her opening and 
shutting them. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. S3 

Time went on until the afternoon. Just before five 
o'clock, when Flore came in to lay the cloth for dinner, 
Lavinia, sitting at the window, saw her sister leave 
the house and cross the yard, a good-sized paper parcel 
in her hand. 

" Why, that is Miss Nancy," she exclaimed, in much 
surprise. " Where can she be going to now ? " 

"Miss Nancy came down the stairs as I was 
coming in here," replied Flore. " She said to me 
that she had just time to run to Madame Carimon's 
before dinner." 

" Hardly," dissented Miss Lavinia. " What can she 
be going for ? " 

As five o'clock struck, Flore (always punctual, from 
self-interest) came in to ask if she should serve the 
fish ; but was told to wait until Miss Nancy returned. 
When half-past five was at hand, and Nancy had not 
appeared, Miss Preen ordered the fish in, remarking 
that Madame Carimon must be keeping her sister to 
dinner. 

Afterwards Miss Preen set out for the casino, ex- 
pecting she should meet them both there ; for Lavinia 
and Nancy had intended to go. Madame Carimon 
was not a subscriber, but she sometimes paid her 
ten sous and went in. It would be quite a pretty 
sight to-night — a children's dance. Lavinia soon 
joined some friends there, but the others did not 
come. 

At eight o'clock she was in the Rue Pomme Cuite, 
approaching Madame Carimon's. Pauline, in her short 
woollen petticoats, and shoeless feet thrust into wooden 
' sabots, was splashing buckets of water before the door 
to scrub the pavement, and keeping up a screaming 

Johnny Ludlow.— V. 3 



34 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

chatter with the other servants in the street, who 
were doing the same, Saturday-night fashion. 

Madame Carimon was in the salon, sitting idle in 
the fading light; her sewing lay on the table. 
Lavinia's eyes went round the room, but she saw no 
one else in it. 

''Mary, where is Nancy?" she asked, as Madame 
Carimon rose to greet her with outstretched hands. 

" I'm sure I don't know," answered Madame Carimon 
lightly. '' She has not been here. Did you think 
she had?" 

'' She dined here — did she not ? " 

'' What, Nancy ? Oh no ! I and Jules dined 
alone. He is out now, giving a French lesson. I 
have not seen Nancy since — let me see — since Thurs- 
day, I think ; the day before yesterday." 

Lavinia Preen sat down, half-bewildered. She 
related the history of the evening. 

"It is elsewhere that Nancy is gone," remarked 
Madame Carimon. " Flore must have misunderstood 
her." 

Concluding that to be the case, and that Nancy 
might already be at home, Lavinia returned at once 
to the Petite Maison Rouge, Mary Carimon bearing 
her company in the sweet summer twilight. Lavinia 
opened the door with her latch-key. Flore had 
departed long before. There were three latch-keys 
to the house, Nancy possessing one of them. 

They looked into every room, and called out 
" Nancy ! Nancy ! " But she was not there. 

Nancy Preen had gone off with Captain Fennel 
by the six-o'clock train, en route for Dover, there to 
be converted into Mrs. Fennel. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 35 

And had Nancy foreseen the terrible events and 
final crime which this most disastrous step would 
bring about, she might have chosen, rather than take 
it, to run away to the Protestant cemetery outside the 
gates of Sainteville, there to lay herself down to die. 



IV. 

" Where can Nancy be ? " 

Miss Preen spoke these words to Mary Carimon in 
a sort of flurry. After letting themselves into the 
house, the Petite Maison Kouge, and calling up and 
down it in vain for Nancy, the question as to where 
she could be naturally arose. 

" She must be spending the evening with the friends 
she stayed to dine with," said Madame Carimon. 

" I don't know where she would be likely to stay. 
Unless — yes — perhaps at Mrs. Hardy's." 

"That must be it, Lavinia,'' pronounced Madame 
Carimon. 

It was then getting towards nine o'clock. They set 
out again for Mrs. Hardy's to escort Nancy home. 
She lived in the Rue Lothaire ; a long street, leading 
to the railway-station. 

Mrs. Hardy was an elderly lady. When near her 
door they saw her grand-nephew, Charles Palliser, turn 
out of it. Charley was a good-hearted young fellow, 
the son of a rich merchant in London. He was stay- 
ing at Sainteville for the purpose of acquiring the art 
of speaking French as a native. 

''Looking for Miss Ann Preen!" cried he, as they 



36 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

explained in a word or two. '^ No, she is not at our 
house ; has not been there. I saw her going off this 
evening by the six-o'clock train." 

" Going off by the six-o'clock train ! " echoed Miss 
Lavinia, staring at him. '' Why, what do you mean, 
Mr. Charles? My sister has not gone off by any 
train." 

*' It was in this way," answered the young man, too 
polite to flatly contradict a lady. '' Mrs. Hardy's 
cousin, Louise Soubitez, came to town this morning; 
she spent the day with us, and after dinner I went to 
see her off by the train. And there, at the station, 
was Miss Ann Preen." 

''But not going away by train," returned Miss 
Lavinia. 

*' Why, yes, she was. I watched the train out of 
the station. She and Louise Soubitez sat in the same 
compartment.'' 

A smile stole to Charles Palliser's face. In truth, 
he was amused at Miss Lavinia's consternation. It 
suddenly struck her that the young man was joking. 

'' Did you speak to Ann, Mr. Charles ? " 

*' Oh yes ; just a few words. There was not time 
for much conversation ; Louise was late." 

Miss Preen felt a little shaken. 

" Was Ann alone ? " 

'' No ; she was with Captain Fennel." 

And, with that, a suspicion of the truth, and the full 
horror of it, dawned upon Lavinia Preen. She grasped 
Madame Carimon's arm and turned white as death. 

"It never can be," she whispered, her lips trem- 
bling ; " it never can be ! She cannot have — have — 
run away — with that man ! " 



FEATHEESTON'S STORY. 37 

Unconsciously perhaps to herself, her eyes were 
fixed on Charles. He thought the question was put 
to him, and answered it. 

" Well — I — I'm afraid it looks like it, as she seems 
to have said nothing to you," he slowly said. " But I 
give you my word. Miss Preen, that until this moment 
that aspect of the matter never suggested itself to me. 
I supposed they were just going up the line together 
for some ^'purpose or other; though, in fact, I hardly 
thought about it at all." 

" And perhaps that is all the mystery ! " interposed 
Madame Carimon briskly. " He may have taken Ann 
to Drecques for a little jaunt, and they will be back 
again by the last train. It must be almost due, 
Lavinia." 

With one impulse they turned to the station, which 
was near at hand. Drecques, a village, was the first 
place the trains stopped at on the up-line. The 
passengers were already issuing from the gate. Stand- 
ing aside until all had passed, and not seeing Nancy 
anywhere, Charley Palliser looked into the omnibuses. 
But she was not there. 

" They may have intended to come back and missed 
the train. Miss Preen ; it's very easy to miss a train," 
said he in his good nature. 

" I think it must be so, Lavinia," spoke up Madame 
Carimon. " Any way, we will assume it until we hear 
to the contrary. And, Charley, we had better not talk 
of this to-night," 

'' I won't," answered Charley earnestly. " You may 
be sure of me." 

Unless Captain Fennel and Miss Ann Preen 
chartered a balloon, there was little probability of 



38 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

their reaching Sainteville that evening, for this had 
been the last train. Lavinia Preen passed a night of 
discomfort, striving to hope against hope, as the saying 
runs. Not a very wise saying ; it might run better^ 
striving to hope against despair. 

When Sunday did not bring back the truants, or 
any news of them, the three in the secret — Mary 
Carimon, Lavinia, and Charley Palliser — had little 
doubt that the disappearance meant an elopement. 
Monsieur Jules Carimon, not easily understanding 
such an escapade, so little in accordance with the 
customs and manners of his own country, said in his 
wife's ear he hoped it would turn out that there was 
a marriage in the case. 

Miss Preen received a letter from Dover pretty 
early in the week, written by Ann. She had been 
married that day to Captain Fennel. 

Altogether, the matter was the most bitter blow 
ever yet dealt to Lavinia Preen. No living being 
knew, or ever would know, how cruelly her heart was 
wrung by it. But, being a kindly woman of good 
sound sense, she saw that the best must be made of 
it, not the worst ; and this she set herself out to do. 
She began by hoping that her own instinct, warning 
her against Captain Fennel, might be a mistaken one, 
and that he had a good home to offer his wife and 
would make her happy in it. 

She knew no more about him — his family, his 
fortune, his former life, his antecedents — than she 
knew of the man in the moon. Major Smith perhaps 
did ; he had been acquainted with him in the past. 
Nancy's letter, though written the previous day, had 
been delivered by the afternoon post. As soon as she 



FJ^IATHERSTON'S STORY. 59 

could get dinner over, Lavinia went to Major Smith's. 
He lived at the top of the Rue Lambeau, a street 
turning out of the Grande Place. He and his wife, 
their own dinner just removed, were sitting together, 
the major indulging in a steaming glass of schiedam 
and water, flavoured with a slice of lemon. He was 
a very jolly little man, with rosy cheeks and a bald 
head. They welcomed Miss Lavinia warmly. She, 
not quite as composed as usual, opened her business 
without preamble ; her sister Ann had married 
Captain Fennel, and she had come to ask Major 
Smith what he knew of him. 

" Not very much," answered the major. 

There was something behind his tone, and Lavinia 
burst into tears. Compassionating her distress, the 
major offered her a comforting glass, similar to his 
own. Lavinia declined it. 

" You will tell me what you know," she said ; and 
he proceeded to do so. 

Edwin Fennel, the son of Colonel Fennel, was sta- 
tioned in India with his regiment for several years. 
He got on well enough, but was not much liked by 
his brother ofiicers : they thought him unscrupulous 
and deceitful. All at once, something very disagree- 
able occurred, which obliged Captain Fennel to quit 
her Majesty's service. The affair was hushed up, out 
of consideration to his family and his father's long 
term of service. " In fact, I believe he was allowed 
to retire, instead of being cashiered," added the major, 
" but I am not quite sure which it was." 

" What was it that occurred — that Captain Fennel 
did, to necessitate his dismissal ? " questioned Lavinia. 

"I don't much like to mention it," said the major, 



40 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

shaking his head. '' It might get about, you see> 
Miss Preen, which would make it awkward for him. 
I have no wish, or right either, to do the man a 
gratuitous injury." 

"I promise you it shall not get about through me," 
returned Lavinia ; " my sister s being his wife will be 
the best guarantee for that. You must please tell me. 
Major Smith." 

" Well, Fennel was suspected — detected, in short — 
of cheating at cards." 

Lavinia drew a deep breath. '^ Do you know,'' she 
said presently, in an undertone, "that when I first 
met the man I shrank from his face." 

" Oh my ! And it has such nice features ! " put in 
Mrs. Smith, who was but a silly little woman. 

*' There was something in its shifty look which 
spoke to me as a warning," continued Lavinia. '' It 
did, indeed. All my life I have been able to read 
faces, and my first instinct has rarely, if ever, deceived 
me. Each time I have seen this man since, that 
instinct against him has become stronger." 

Major Smith took a sip at his schiedam. " I believe 
— between ourselves — he is just a mauvais sujet," said 
he. '' He has a brother who is one, out and out ; as 
I chance to know." 

"What is Edwin FenneFs income, major ? " 

''I cant tell at all. I should not be surprised to 
hear that he has none." 

'' How does he lives then ? " asked Lavinia, her heart 
going at a gallop. 

"Don't know that either," said the major. "His 
father is dead now and cant help him. A very 
respectable man, the old colonel, but always poor." 



FEATHERSTON^S STOBY. 41 

"He cannot live upon air; he must have some 
means," debated Lavinia. 

" Lives upon his wits, perhaps ; some men do. He 
wanted to borrow ten pounds from me a short time 
ago/' added the major, taking another sip at his 
tumbler ; '' but I told him I had no money to lend — 
which Avas a fact. I have an idea that he got it out 
of Charley Palliser." 

The more Lavinia Preen heard of this unhappy case, 
the worse it seemed to be. Declining to stay for tea, 
as Mrs. Smith wished, she betook her miserable steps 
home again, rather wishing that the sea would swallow 
up Captain Fennel. 

The next day she saw Charles Palliser. Pouncing 
upon him as he was airing his long legs in the Grande 
Place, she put the question to him in so determined a 
way that Charley had no chance against her. He 
turned red. 

" I don't know who can have set that about,'^ said 
he. " But it's true. Miss Preen. Fennel pressed me 
to lend him ten pounds for a month ; and I — well, I 
did it. I happened to have it in my pocket, you see, 
having just cashed a remittance from my father." 

'' Has he repaid you, Mr. Charles ? " 

" Oh, the month's not quite up yet," cried Charley. 
*' Please don't talk of it, Miss Preen ; he wouldn't like 
it, you know. How on earth it has slipped out I can't 
imagine." 

"No, I shall not talk of it," said Lavinia, as she 
wished him good-day and walked onwards, wondering 
what sort of a home Captain Fennel meant to provide 
for Ann. 

Lavinia Preen's cup of sorrow was not yet full. A 



42 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

morning or two after this she was seated at breakfast 
with the window open, when she saw the postman 
come striding across the yard with a letter. It was 
from the bride; a very short letter, and one that 
Miss Lavinia did not at once understand. She read it 
again. 

''My dear Lavinia, 

'' All being well, we shall be home to-morrow ; 
that is, on the day you receive this letter ; reaching 
Sainteville by the last train in the evening. Please 
get something nice and substantial for tea, Edwin 
says, and please see that Flore has the bedroom in 
good order. 

*' Your affectionate sister, 

'' Ann Fennel." 

The thing that Miss Lavinia did, when compre- 
hension came to her, was to fly into a passion. 

'' Come home here — he ! — is that what she means ? '' 
cried she. " Never. Have that man in my house ? 
Never, never.'' 

'^ But what has mademoiselle received ? " exclaimed 
Flore, appearing just then with a boiled egg, "Is it 
bad news ? " 

"It is news that I will not put up with — will not 
tolerate,'' cried Miss Lavinia. And, in the moment's 
dismay, she told the woman what it was. 

" Tiens ! " commented Flore, taking a common-sense 
view of matters : " they must be coming just to show 
themselves to mademoiselle on their marriage. Likely 
enough they will not stay more than a night or two, 
.while looking out for an apartment." 



FEATHEBSTON^S STORY. 43 

Lavinia did not believe it ; but the very suggestion 
somewhat soothed her. To receive that man even for 
a night or two, as Flore put it, would be to her most 
repugnant, cruel pain, and she resolved not to do it. 
Breakfast over, she carried the letter and her trouble 
to the Rue Pomme Cuite. 

* ''But I am afraid, Lavinia, you cannot refuse to 
receive them," spoke Madame Carimon, after consider- 
ing the problem. 

" Not refuse to receive them ! " echoed Lavinia. 
" Why do you say that ? " 

"Well," replied Mary Carimon uneasily, for she 
disliked to add to trouble, " you see the house is as 
much Ann's as Jyours. It was taken in your joint 
names. Ann has the right to return to it ; and 
also, I suppose " — more dubiously — " to introduce her 
husband into it." 

"Is that French law?" 

"I think so. I'll ask Jules when he comes home 
to dinner. Would it not be English law also, Lavinia ? " 

Lavinia was feeling wretchedly uncomfortable. 
With all her plain common-sense, this phase of the 
matter had not struck her. 

" Mary," said she — and there stopped, for she was 
seized with a violent shivering, which seemed difficult 
to be accounted for. " Mary, if that man has to take 
up his abode in the house, I can never remain in it. 
I would rather die." 

" Look here, dear friend," whispered Mary : " life is 
full of trouble — as Job tells us in the Holy Scriptures 
— none of us are exempt from it. It attacks us all in 
turn. The only one thing we can do is to strive to 
make the best of it, under God ; to ask Him to help 



44 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

us. I am afraid there is a severe cross before you, 
Lavinia ; better bear it than fight against it." 

" I will never bear that,'' retorted Lavinia, turning 
a deaf ear in her anger. " You ought not to wish me 
to do so.'' 

"And I would not if I saw anything better for 
you." 

Madame Veuve Sauvage, sitting as usual at her 
front- window that same morning, was surprised* at 
receiving an early call from her tenant. Miss Preen. 
Madame handed her into her best crimson velvet 
fauteuil, and they began talking. 

Not to much purpose, however ; for neither very 
well understood what the other said. Lavinia tried 
to explain the object of her visit, but found her French 
was not equal to it. Madame called her maid, 
Mariette, and sent her into the shop below to ask 
Monsieur Gustavo to be good enough to step up. 

Lavinia had gone to beg of them to cancel the 
agreement for the little house, so far as her sister was 
concerned, and to place it in her name only. 

Monsieur Gustavo, when he had mastered the 
request, politely answered that such a thing was not 
practicable ; Miss Ann s name could not be struck out 
of the lease without her consent, or, as he expressed 
it, breaking the bail. His mother and himself had 
every disposition to oblige Miss Preen in any way, as 
indeed she must know, but they had no power to act 
against the law. 

So poor Miss Lavinia went into her home wringing 
her hands in despair. She was perfectly helpless. 



FEATHEESTON'S STORY. 45 



The summer days went on. Mr. Edwin Fennel, with 
all the impudence in the world, had taken up his 
abode in the Petite Maison Rouge, without saying 
with your leave or by your leave. 

" How could you thinh of bringing him here, Ann ? '' 
Lavinia demanded of her sister in the first days. 

*' I did not think of it ; it was he thought of it," 
returned Mrs. Fennel in her simple way. ''I feared 
you would not like it, Lavinia ; but what could I do ? 
He seemed to look upon it as a matter of course that 
he should come." 

Yes, there he was ; " a matter of course ; " making 
one in the home. Lavinia could not show fight ; he 
was Ann's husband, and the place was as much Ann's 
as hers. The more Lavinia saw of him the more she 
disliked him; which was perhaps unreasonable, since 
he made himself agreeable to her in social intercourse, 
though he took care to have things his own way. If 
Lavinia s will went one way in the house and his the 
other, she found herself smilingly set at naught. Ann 
was his willing slave ; and when opinions differed she 
sided with her husband. 

It was no light charge, having a third person in the 
house to live upon their small income, especially one 
who studied his appetite. For a very short time 
Lavinia, in her indignation at affairs generally, turned 
the housekeeping over to Mrs. Fennel. But she had 
to take to it again. Ann was naturally an incautious 
manager; she ordered in delicacies to please her 
husband's palate without regard to cost, and nothing 
could have come of that but debt and disaster. 



46 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

That the gallant ex-Captain Fennel had married 
Ann Preen just to have a roof over his head, Lavinia 
felt as sure of as that the moon occasionally shone in 
the heavens. She did not suppose he had any other 
refuge in the wide world. And through something told 
her by Ann she judged that he had believed he was 
doing better for himself in marrying than he had done. 

The day after the marriage Mr. and Mrs. Fennel 
were sitting on a bench at Dover, romantically gazing 
at the sea, honeymoon fashion, and talking of course 
of hearts and darts. Suddenly the bridegroom turned 
his thoughts to more practical things. 

''Nancy, how do j^ou receive your money — half- 
yearly or quarterly ? " asked he. 

''Oh, quarterly,'' said Nancy. "It is paid punctually 
to us by the acting-trustee, Colonel Selby/' 

"Ah, yes. Then you have thirty-five pounds every 
quarter ? " 

" Between us, we do," assented Nancy. " Lavinia 
has seventeen pounds ten, and I have the same ; and 
the colonel makes us each give a receipt for our own 
share.'' 

Captain Fennel turned his head and gazed at her 
with a hard stare. 

" You told me your income was a hundred and forty 
pounds a-year." 

"Yes, it is that exactly," said she quietly; "mine 
and Lavinia's together. We do not each have that, 
Edwin ; I never meant to imply " 

Mrs. Fennel broke off, frightened. On the captain's 
face, cruel enough just then, there sat an expression 
which she might have thought diabolical had it been 
any one else's face. Any way, it scared her. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 47 

'^ AVhat is it ? '' she gasped. 

Rising rapidly, Captain Fennel walked forward, 
caught up some pebbles, flung them from him and 
waited, apparently watching to see where they fell. 
Then he strolled back again. 

'' Were you angry witb me ? '' faltered Nancy. 
"Had I done anything V 

" My dear, what should you have done ? Angry ? '* 
repeated he, in a light tone, as if intensely amused. 
" You must not take up fancies, Mrs. Fennel.'' 

" I suppose Mrs. Selby thought it would be sufficient 
income for us, both living together,'' remarked Nancy. 
" If either of us should die it all lapses to the other. 
We found it quite enough last year, I assure you, 
Edwin ; Sainteville is so cheap a place." 

^' Oh, delightfully cheap ! " agreed the captain. 

It was this conversation that Nancy repeated to 
Lavinia ; but she did not speak of the queer look 
which had frightened her. Lavinia saw that Mr. 
Edwin Fennel had taken up a wrong idea of their 
income. Of course the disappointment angered him. 

An aspect of semi-courtesy was outwardly main- 
tained in the intercourse of home life. Lavinia was a 
gentlewoman ; she had not spoken unpleasant things 
to the captain's face, or hinted that he was a weight 
upon the housekeeping pocket ; whilst he, as yet, was 
quite officiously civil to her. But there was no love 
lost between them ; and Lavinia could not divest her 
mind of an undercurrent of conviction that he was, in 
some way or other, a man to be dreaded. 

Thus Captain Fennel (as he was mostly called), 
being domiciled with the estimable ladies in the Petite 
Maison Rouge, grew to be considered one of the English 



48 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

colony of Sainteville, and was received as such. As 
nobody knew aught against him, nobody thought 
anything. Major Smith had not spoken of antecedents, 
neither had Miss Preen ; the Carimons, who were in 
the secret, never spoke ill of any one: and as the 
captain could assume pleasing manners at will, he 
became fairly well liked by his country-people in a 
passing sort of way. 

Lavinia Preen sat one day upon the low edge of 
the pier, her back to the sun and the sea. She had 
called in at the little shoe-shop on the port, just as 
you turn out of the Eue Tessin, and had left her 
parasol there. The sun was not then out in the grey 
sky, and she did not miss it. Now that the sun was 
shining, and the grey canopy above had become blue, 
she said to herself that she had been stupid. It was 
September weather, so the sun was not unbearable. 

Lavinia Preen was thinner; the thraldom of the 
past three months had made her so. Now and then 
it would cross her mind to leave the Petite Maison 
Rouge to its married inmates; but for Nancy's sake 
she hesitated. Nancy had made the one love of her 
life, and Nancy had loved her in return. Now, the 
love was chiefly given to the new tie she had formed ; 
Lavinia was second in every respect. 

" They go their way now, and I have to go mine," 
sighed Lavinia, as she sat this morning on the pier. 
" Even my walks have to be solitary.'' 

A cloud came sailing up and the sun went in again. 
Lavinia rose; she walked onwards till she came to 
the end of the pier, where she again sat down. The 
next moment, chancing to look the way she had come, 
she saw a lady and gentleman advancing arm-in-arm. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 49 

^' Oh, they are on the pier, are they ! " mentally 
spoke Lavinia. For it was Mr. and Mrs. Edwin 
Fennel. 

Nancy sat down beside her. " It is a long walk ! '' 
cried she, drawing a quick breath or two. " Lavinia, 
what do you think we have just heard ? '' 

" How can I tell ? '' returned the elder sister. 

" You know those queer people, an old English aunt 
and three nieces, who took Madame Gibon's rooms in 
the Rue Menar ? They have all disappeared and 
have paid nobody," continued Nancy. " Charley 
Palliser told us just now ; he was laughing like 
anything over it.'' 

'' I never thought they looked like people to be 
trusted," remarked Lavinia. " Dear me ! here's the 
sun coming out again." 

" Where is your parasol ? " 

Lavinia recounted her negligence in having left it 
at the shoe-mart. Captain Fennel had brought out 
a small silk umbrella ; he turned from the end of the 
pier, where he stood looking out to sea, oDened the 
umbrella, and offered it. 

" It is not much larger than a good-sized parasol," 
remarked he, " Pray take it, Miss Lavinia." 

Lavinia did so after a moment's imperceptible 
hesitation, and thanked him. She hated to be under 
the slightest obligation to him, but the sun was now 
full in her eyes, and might make her head ache. 

The pleasant smell of a cigar caused them to look 
up. A youngish man, rather remarkably tall, with a 
shepherd's plaid across his broad shoulders, was striding 
up the pier. He sat down near Miss Preen, and she 
glanced round at him. Appearing to think that she 

Johnny Ludlow.— V. 4 



60 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

looked at his cigar, he immediately threw it into 
the sea behind him. 

" Oh, I am sorry you did that/' said Lavinia, speak- 
ing impulsively. '' I like the smell of a cigar." 

" Oh, thank you ; thank you very much," he 
answered. *' I had nearly smoked it out." 

Voice and manner were alike pleasant and easy, 
and Lavinia spoke again — some trivial remark about 
the fine expanse of sea; upon which they drifted into 
conversation. We are reserved enough with strangers 
at home, we Islanders, as the world knows, but most 
of us are less ungracious abroad. 

*' Sainteville seems a clean, healthy place," remarked 
the new-comer. 

"Very," said Miss Lavinia. ''Do you know it 
well?" 

" I never saw it before to-day," he replied. '' I 
have come here from Douai to meet a friend, having 
two or three days to spare." 

'' Douai is a fine town," remarked Captain Fennel, 
turning to speak, for he was still looking out over the 
sea, and had his opera-glasses in his hand. " I spent 
a week there not long ago.'' 

''Douai!" exclaimed Nancy. "That's the place 
where the great Law Courts are, is it not? Don't 
you remember the man last year, Lavinia, who com- 
mitted some dreadful crime, and was taken up to 
Douai to be tried at the Assizes there ?" 

" We have a great case coming on there as soon a^ 
the Courts meet," said the stranger, who seemed a 
talkative man ; " and that's what I am at Douai for* 
A case of extensive swindling." 

" You are a lawyer, I presume ? " said Miss Preen^ 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 51 

The stranger nodded. '' Being the only one of ovir 
London firm who can speak French readily, and wo 
are four of ns in it, I had to come over and watch this 
affair and wait for the trial. For the young fellow is 
an Englishman, I am sorry to say, and his people, 
worthy and well-to-do merchants, are nearly mad 
over it." 

" But did he commit it in England ? " cried Miss 
Preen. 

" Oh no ; in France, within the arrondissement of 
the Douai Courts. He is in prison there. I dare say 
you get some swindling in a petty way even at 
Sainteville," added the speaker. 

" That we do," put in Nancy. " An English family 
of ladies ran away only yesterday, owing twenty 
pounds at least, it is said.'' 

^'Ah,'' said the stranger, with a smile. ''I think 
the ladies are sometimes more clever at that game 
than the men. By the way,'' he went on briskly, '' do 
you know a Mr. Dangerfield at Sainteville ? " 

" No," replied Lavinia. 

'' He is staying here, I believe, or has been." 

"Not that I know of," said Lavinia. ''I never 
heard his name." 

"Changed it again, probably," carelessly observed 
the young man. 

'^ Is Dangerfield not his true name, then ? " 

''Just as much as it is mine, madam. His real 
name is Fennel; but he has' found it convenient to 
drop that on occasion." 

Now it was a curious fact that Nancy did not hear 
the name which the stranger had given as the true 
one. Her attention was diverted by some men who 



52 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

were working afc the mud in the harbour, for it was 
low water, and who were loudly disputing together, 
Nancy had moved to the side of the pier to look down 
at them. 

'' Is he a swindler, that Mr. Dangerfield ? " asked 
she, half-turning her head to speak. But the stranger 
did not answer. 

As to Lavinia, the avowal had struck her speechless. 
She glanced at Captain Fennel. He had his back to 
them, and stood immovable, apparently unconcerned, 
possibly not having heard. A thought struck her — • 
and frightened her. 

" Do you know that Mr. Dangerfield yourself ? " she 
asked the stranger, in a tone of indifference. 

" No, I do not/' he said ; '^ but there's a man coming 
over in yonder boat who does.'' 

He pointed over his shoulder at the sea as he spoke. 
Lavinia glanced quickly in the same direction. 

" In yonder boat ? " she repeated vaguely. 

'^ I mean the London boat, which is on its way here, 
and will get in this evening," he explained. 

"Oh, of course/' said Lavinia, as if her wits had 
been wool-gathering. 

The young man took out his watch and looked at 
it. Then he rose, lifted his hat, and, with a general 
good-morning, walked quickly down the pier. 

Nancy was still at the side of the pier, looking down 
at the men. Captain Fennel put up his glasses and sat 
down beside Lavinia, his impassive face still as usual. 

" I wonder who that man is ? " he cried, watching 
the footsteps of the retreating stranger* 

"Did you hear what he said?" asked Lavinia> 
dropping her voice. 



FEATHERSTON'S STOHY. 53 

^'Yes. Had Nancy not been here, I should have 
given him a taste of my mind ; but she hates even the 
semblance of a quarrel. He had no right to say what 
he did." 

^' What could it have meant ? " murmured Lavinia. 

"It meant my brother, I expect," said Captain 
Fennel savagely, and, as Lavinia thought, with every 
appearance of truth. "But he has never been at 
Sainteville, so far as I know; the fellow is mistaken 
in that." 

"Does he pass under the name of Dangerfield ? " 

"Possibly. This is the first IVe heard of it. He is 
an extravagant man, often in embarrassment from 
debt. There's nothing worse against him." 

He did not say more ; neither did Lavinia. They 
sat on in silence. The tall figure in the Scotch plaid 
disappeared from sight ; the men in the harbour kept 
on disputing. 

"How long are you going to stay here?" asked 
Nancy, turning towards her husband. 

" I'm ready to go now," he answered. And giving 
his arm to Nancy, they walked down the pier together. 

Never a word to Lavinia ; never a question put by 
him or by Nancy, if only to say, " Are you not coming 
with us ? " It was ever so now. Nancy, absorbed in 
her husband, neglected her sister. 

Lavinia sighed. She sat on a little while longer, 
and then took her departure. 

The shoe-shop on the port was opposite the place in 
the harbour where the London steamers were generally 
moored. The one now there was taking in cargo. 
As Lavinia was turning into the shop for her parasol, 
she heard a stentorian English voice call out to a man 



64 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

who was superintending the work in his shirt-sleeves : 
^' At what hour does this boat leave to-night ? " 

'' At eight o'clock, sir," was the answer. ^' Eight 
sharp; we want to get away Avith the first o' the 
tide." 

From Miss Lavinia Preen' s Diary. 

September 22nd, — The town clocks have just struck 
eight, and I could almost fancy that I hear the faint 
sound of the boat steaming down the harbour in the 
dark night, carrying Nancy away with it, and carrying 
him. However, that is fancy and nothing else, for 
the sound could not penetrate to me here. 

Perhaps it surprised me, perhaps it did not, when 
Nancy came to me this afternoon as I was sitting in 
my bedroom reading Scott's " Legend of Montrose," 
which Mary Carimon had lent me from her little stock 
of English books, and said she and Captain Fennel 
were going to London that night by the boat. He 
had received a letter, he told her, calling him thither. 
He might tell Nancy that if he liked, but it would 
not do for me. He is going, I can only believe, in 
consequence of what that gentleman in the shepherd's 
plaid said on the pier to-day. Can it be that the 
" Mr. Dangerfield " spoken of applies to Edwin Fennel 
himself and not to his brother ? Is he finding himself 
in some dangerous strait, and is running away from 
the individual coming over in the approaching boat, 
who personally knows Mr. Dangerfield ? '' Can you 
lend me a five-pound note, Lavinia ? " Nancy went 
on, when she had told me the news; ^^lend it to 
myself, I mean. I will repay you when I receive my 
next quarter s income^ which is due, you know, in a 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 55 

few days." I chanced to have a five-pound note by 
me in my own private store, and I gave it her^ 
reminding her that unless she did let me have it 
again, it would be so much less in hand to meet 
expenses with, and that I had found difficulty enough 
in the past quarter. " On the other hand," said Nancy, 
" if I and Edwin stay away a week or two, you will 
be spared our housekeeping; and when our money 
comes, Lavinia, you can open my letter and repay 
yourself if I am not here. I don't at all know where 
we are going to stay," she said, in answer to my 
question. '•' I was beginning to ask Edwin just now 
in the other room, but he was busy packing his 
portmanteau, and told me not to bother him." 

And so, there it is: they are gone, and I am left 
here all alone. 

I wonder whether any Mr. Dangerfield has been at 
Sainteville ? I think we should have heard the name. 
Why, that is the door-bell ! I must go and answer it. 

It was Charley Palliser. He ^ had come with a 
message from Major and Mrs. Smith. They are going 
to Drecques to-morrow morning by the eleven-o'clock 
train with a few friends and a basket of provisions, 
and had sent Charley to say they would be glad of 
my company. " Do come. Miss Preen," urged Charley 
as I hesitated ; " you are all alone now, and I'm sure 
it must be dreadfully dull." 

" How do you know I am alone ? " I asked. 

" Because," said Charley, " I have been watching 
the London boat out, and I saw Captain Fennel and 
your sister go by it. Major and Mrs. Smith were with 
me. It is a lovely night." 

" Wait a moment," I said, as Charley was about to 



56 JOHNNY LUDLOW, 

depart when I had accepted the invitation. '' Do you 
know whether an Englishman named Dangerfield is 
living here ? " 

'' Don't think there is ; I have not met with him," 
said Charley '' Why, Miss Preen ? " 

'' Oh, only that I was asked to-day whether I knew 
any one of that name," I returned carelessly. " Good- 
night, Mr. Charles. Thank you for coming." 

They have invited me, finding I was left alone, and 
I think it very kind of them. But the Smiths are 
both kind-hearted people. 

September 2Srd. — Half-past nine o'clock, p.m. Have 
just returned from Drecques by the last train after 
spending a pleasant day. Quiet, of course, for there 
is not much to do at Drecques except stroll over the 
ruins of the old castle, or saunter about the quaint 
little ancient town, and go into the grand old church. 
It was so fine and warm that we had dinner on the 
grass, the people at the cottage bringing our plates 
and knives and forks. Later in the day we took tea 
indoors. In the afternoon, when all the rest were 
scattered about and the major sat smoking his cigar 
on the bench under the trees, I sat down by him to 
tell him what happened yesterday, and I begged him 
to give me his opinion. It was no betrayal of confi- 
dence, for Major Smith is better acquainted with the 
shady side of the Fennels than I am. 

"I heard there was an English lawyer staying at 
the Hotel des Princes, and that he had come here from 
Douai," observed the major. "His name's Lockett. 
It must have been he who spoke to you on the 
pier." 

"Yes, of course. Do you know, major, whether 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 57 

any one has stayed at Sainteville passing as Mr. 
Dangerfield ? " 

''I don't think so/' replied the major. "Unless he 
has kept himself remarkably quiet." 

" Could it apply to Captain Fennel ? " 

" I never knew that he had gone under an assumed 
name. The accusation is one more likely to apply to 
his brother than to himself. James Fennel is un- 
scrupulous, very incautious: notwithstanding that, I 
like him better than I like the other. There's some- 
thing about Edwin Fennel that repels you ; at least, it 
does me ; but one can hardly help liking James, 
mauvais sujet though he is," added the speaker, 
pausing to flirt oflf the ashes of his cigar. 

'' The doubt pointing to Edwin Fennel in the affair 
is his suddenly decamping," continued Major Smith. 
*' It was quite impromptu, you say. Miss Preen ? " 

'' Quite so. I feel sure he had no thought of going 
away in the morning; and he did not receive any 
letter from England later, which was the excuse he 
gave Nancy for departing. Rely upon it that what 
he heard about the Mr. Dangerfield on the pier drove 
him away." 

" Well, that looks suspicious, you see." 

^' Oh yes, I do see it," I answered, unable to conceal 
the pain I felt. " It was a bitter calamity, Major Smith, 
when Nancy married him." 

''Ill make a few cautious inquiries in the town, and 
try to find out if there's anything against him in 
secret, or if any man named Dangerfield has been in 
the place and got into a mess. But, indeed, I don't 
altogether see that it could apply to him," concluded 
the major after a pause. ''One can't well go under 



58 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

two names in the same town; and every one knows 
him as Edwin Fennel. — Here they are, some of them, 
coming back ! " And when the wanderers were close 
up, they found Major Smith arguing with me about 
the architecture of the castle. 

Ten o'clock. Time for bed. I am in no haste to go, 
for I don't sleep as well as I used to. 

A thought has lately sometimes crossed me that this 
miserable trouble worries me more than it ought to do. 
^'Accept it as your cross, and yield to it, Lavinia," 
says Mary Carimon to me. But I cannot yield to it; 
that is, I cannot in the least diminish the anxiety 
which always clings to me, or forget the distress and 
dread that lie upon me like a shadow. I know that 
my life has been on the whole an easy life — that 
during all the years I spent at Selby Court I never 
had any trouble ; I know that crosses do come to us 
all, earlier or later, and that I ought not to be 
surprised that "no new thing has happened to me," 
the world being full of such experiences, I suppose it 
is because I have been so exempt from care, that I feel 
this the more. 

Half-past ten! just half-an-hour writing these last 
few lines and thinJcing ! Time I put up. I wonder 
when I shall hear from Nancy ? 



VI. 

A CURIOUS phase, taken in conjunction with what 
was to follow, now occurred in the history. Miss 
Preen began to experience a nervous dread at going 
into the Petite Maison Rouge at night. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 59 

She could go into the house ten times a-day when 
it was empty; she could stay in the house alone in 
the evening after Flore took her departure ; she could 
be its only inmate all night long ; and never at these 
times have the slightest sense of fear. But if she 
went out to spend the evening, she felt an unaccount- 
able dread, amounting to horror, at entering it when 
she arrived home. 

It came on suddenly. One evening when Lavinia 
had been at Mrs. Hardy's, Charley Palliser having 
run over to London, she returned home a little before 
ten o'clock. Opening the door with her latch-key, 
she was stepping into the passage when a sharp 
horror of entering it seized her. A dread, as it 
seemed to her, of going into the empty house, up the 
long, dark, narrow passage. It was the same sort of 
sensation that had struck her the first time she 
attempted to enter it under the escort of Monsieur 
Gustavo Sauvage, and it came on now with as little 
reason as it had come on then. For Lavinia this 
night had not a thought in her mind of fear or 
loneliness, or anything else unpleasant. Mrs. Hardy 
had been relating a laughable adventure that Charley 
Palliser met with on board the boat when going over, 
the account of which he had written to her, and 
Lavinia was thinking brightly of it all the way home. 
She was smiling to herself as she unlatched the door 
and opened it. And then, without warning, arose the 
horrible fear. 

How she conquered it sufficiently to enter the 
passage and reach the slab, where her candle and 
matches were always placed, she did not know. It 
had to be done, for Lavinia Preen could not remain 



60 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

in the dark yard all night, or patrol the streets ; 
but her face had turned moist, and her hands 
trembled. 

That was the beginning of it. Never since had she 
come home in the same way at night but the same 
terror assailed her; and I must beg the reader to 
understand that this is no invention. Devoid of 
reason and unaccountable though the terror was, 
Lavinia Preen experienced it. 

! She went out often — two or three times a-week, 
perhaps — either to dine or to spend the evening. 
Captain Fennel and Nancy were still away, and 
friends, remembering Miss Preen s solitary position, 
invited her. 

October had passed, November was passing, and as 
yet no news came to Lavinia of the return of the 
travellers. At first they did not write to her at all, 
leaving her to infer that as the boat reached London 
safely they had done the same. After the lapse of 
a fortnight she received a short letter from Nancy 
telling her really nothing, and not giving any address. 
The next letter came towards the end of November, 
and was as follows : 

''My dear Lavinia, 

'' I have not written to you, for, truly, there 
is nothing to write about, and almost every day I 
expect Edwin to tell me we are going home. Will 
you kindly lend me a ten-pound note ? Please send 
it in a letter. We are staying at Camberwell, and I 
enclose you the address in strict confidence. Do not 
repeat it to any one — not even to Mary Carimon. It 
is a relation of Edwin's we are staying with, but he is 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 61 

not well off. I like his wife. Edwin desires his best 
regards. 

*' Your loving sister, 

'^ Nancy." 

Miss Preen did not send the ten-pound note. She 
wrote to tell Nancy that she could not do it, and was 
uncomfortably pressed for money herself in consequence 
of Nancy's own action. 

The five-pound note borrowed from Lavinia by 
Nancy on her departure had not been repaid ; neither 
had Nancy's share of the previous quarter s money 
been remitted. On the usual day of payment at the 
end of September, Lavinia's quarterly income came to 
her at Sainteville, as was customary; not Nancy's. 
For Nancy there came neither money nor letter. The 
fact was, Nancy, escorted by her husband, had pre- 
sented herself at Colonel Selby's bank — he was junior 
partner and manager of a small private bank in the 
City — the day before the dividends were due, and 
personally claimed the quarterly payment, which was 
paid to her. 

But now, the summary docking of just half their 
income was a matter of embarrassment to Miss Preen, 
as may readily be imagined. The house expenses had 
to go on, with only half the money to meet them. 
Lavinia had a little nest-egg of her own, it has been 
said before, saved in earlier years ; and this she drevv^ 
upon, and so kept debt down. But it was very incon- 
venient, as well as vexatious. Lavinia told the whole 
truth now to Mary Carimon and her husband, with 
Nancy's recent application for a ten-pound note, and 
her refusal. Little Monsieur Carimon muttered a 



62 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

word between his closed lips which sounded like 
" Eat/' and was no doubt applied to Edwin Fennel. 

Pretty close upon this, Lavinia received a blowing- 
up letter from Colonel Selby. Having known Lavinia 
when she was in pinafores, the colonel, a peppery man, 
considered he had a right to take her to task at Avill. 
He was brother to Paul Selby, of Selby Court, and 
heir presumptive to it. The colonel had a wife and 
children, and much ado at times to keep them, for his 
income was not large at present, and gro wing-up sons 
are expensive. 

" Dear Lavinia, 

'' What in the name of common sense could 
have induced you to imagine that I should pay the 
two quarterly incomes some weeks before they were 
due, and to send Ann and that man Fennel here with 
your orders that I should do so ? Pretty ideas of 
trusteeship you must have ! If you are over head 
and ears in debt, as they tell me, and for that reason 
wish to forestall the time for payment, I can't help it. 
It is no reason with me. Your money will be for- 
warded to Sainteville, at the proper period, to yourself. 
Do not ask me again to pay it into Ann's hands, and 
to accept her receipt for it. I can do nothing of the 
kind. Ann's share will be sent at the same time. 
She tells me she is returning to you. She must give 
me her own receipt for it, and you must give me 
yours. 

'' Your affectionate kinsman, 

''William Selby." 

Just for a few minutes Lavinia Preen did not 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 63 

understand this letter. What could it mean ? Why 
had Colonel Selby written it to her ? Then the truth 
flashed into her mind. 

Nancy (induced, of course, by Edwin Fennel) had 
gone with him to Colonel Selby, purporting to have 
been sent by Lavinia, to ask him to pay them the 
quarter's money not due until the end of December, 
and not only Nancys share but Lavinia's as 
well. 

" Why, it would have been nothing short of swind- 
ling ! " cried Lavinia, as she gazed in dismay at the 
colonel's letter. 

In the indignation of the moment, she took pen and 
ink and wrote an answer to William Selby. Partly 
enlightening him — not quite — but telling him that 
her money must never be paid to any one but herself, 
and that the present matter had better be hushed up 
for Ann s sake, who was as a reed in the hands of the 
man she had married. 

Colonel Selby exploded a little when he received 
this answer. Down he sat in his turn, and wrote 
a short, sharp note to Edwin Fennel, giving that 
estimable man a little of his mind, and warning him 
that he must not be surprised if the police were 
advised to look after him. 

When Edward Fennel received this decisive note 
through an address he had given to Colonel Selby, 
but not the one at Camberwell, he called Miss 
Lavinia Preen all the laudatory names in the thieves' 
dictionary. 

And on the feast of St. Andrew, which as every one 
knows is the last day of November, the letters came 
to an end with the following one from Nancy : 



U JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

''All being well, my dear Lavinia, we propose to 
return home by next Sunday's boat, which ought 
to get in before three o'clock in the afternoon. On 
Wednesday, Edwin met Charley Palliser in the 
Strand, and had a chat with him, and heard all the 
Sainteville news; not that there seemed much to 
hear. Charley says he runs over to London pretty 
often now, his mother being ill. Of course you will 
not mind waiting dinner for us on Sunday. 

" Ever your loving sister, 

"ANiN.'^ 

So at length they were coming ! Either that threat 
of being looked after by the police had been too much 
for Captain Fennel, or the failure to obtain funds was 
cutting short his stay in London. Any way, they 
were coming. Lavinia laid the letter beside her 
breakfast-plate and fell into thought. She resolved 
to welcome them graciously, and to say nothing about 
bygones. 

Flore was told the news, and warned that instead 
of dining at half-past one on the morrow, the usual 
Sunday hour, it would be delayed until three. Flore 
did not much like the prospect of her afternoon's 
holiday being shortened, but there was no help for 
it. Lavinia provided a couple of ducks for dinner, 
going into the market after breakfast to buy them ; 
the dish was an especial favourite of the captain's. 
She invited Mary Carimon to partake of it, for Mon- 
sieur Carimon was going to spend Sunday at Lille 
with an old friend of his, who was now master of the 
college there. 

On this evening, Saturday, Lavinia dined out 



FEATHEESTON'S STOBY. 65 

herself. Some ladies named Bosanquet, three sisters, 
with whom she had become pretty intimate, called 
at the Petite Maison Eouge, and carried her off to 
their home in the Rue Lamartine, where they had 
lived for years. After a very pleasant evening with 
them, Lavinia left at ten o'clock. 

And when she reached her own door, and was 
putting the latch-key into the lock, the old fear came 
over her. Dropping her hands, she stood there 
trembling. She looked round at the silent, deserted 
yard, she looked up at the high encircling walls ; she 
glanced at the frosty sky and the bright stars ; and 
she stood there shivering. 

But she must go in. Throwing the door back with 
an effort of will, she turned sick and faint : to enter 
that dark, lonely, empty house seemed beyond her 
strength and courage. What could this strange feeling 
portend ?— why should it thus attack her ? It was 
just as if some fatality were in the house waiting to 
destroy her, and a subtle power Avould keep her from 
entering it. 

Her heart beating wildly, her breath laboured, 
Lavinia went in ; she shut the door behind her and 
sped up the passage. Feeling for the match-box on 
the slab, put ready to her hand, she struck a match 
and lighted the candle. At that moment, when turn- 
ing round, she saw, or thought she saw, Captain Fennel. 
He was standing just within the front-door, which she 
had now come in at, staring at her with a fixed gaze, 
and with the most malignant expression on his usually 
impassive face. Lavinia s terror partly gave place to 
astonishment. Was it he himself? How had he 
come in ? 

Johnny Ludlow.— V. S 



e^ JOHNNY LUDLOW, 

Turning to take the candle from the slab in her 
bewilderment, when she looked again he was gone. 
What had become of him ? Lavinia called to him by- 
name, but he did not answer. She took the candle 
into the salon, though feeling sure he could not have 
come up the passage ; but he was not there. Had he 
slipped out again ? Had she left the door open when 
thinking she closed it, and had he followed her in, and 
was now gone again ? Lavinia carried her lighted 
candle to the door, and found it was fastened. She 
had not left it open. 

Then, as she undressed in her room, trying all the 
while to solve the problem, an idea crept into her 
mind that the appearance might have been super- 
naturaL Yet — supernatural visitants of the living do 
not appear to us, but of the dead. Was Edwin Fennel 
dead ? 

So disturbed was the brain of Lavinia Preen that she 
could not get to sleep ; but tossed and turned about 
the bed almost until daybreak, At six o'clock she fell 
into an uneasy slumber, and into a most distressing 
dream. 

It was a confused dream ; nothing in it was clear. 
All she knew when she awoke, was that she had 
appeared to be in a state of inexplicable terror, of 
most intense apprehension throughout it, arising from 
some evil threatened her by Captain Fennel. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 67 



VII. 

It was a fine, frosty day, and the first of December. 
The sun shone on the fair streets of Sainteville and on 
the small congregation turning out of the English 
Protestant Church after morning service. 

Lavinia Preen went straight home. There she 
found that Madame Carimon, who was to spend the 
rest of the day with her — monsieur having gone to 
Lille — had not yet arrived, though the French Church 
Evangelique was always over before the English. 
After glancing at Flore in the kitchen, busy over 
the fine ducks, Lavinia set off for the Rue Pomme 
Cuite. 

She met Mary Carimon turning out of it. '' Let us 
go and sit under the wall in the sun," said Mary. '' It 
is too early yet for the boat." 

This was a high wall belonging to the strong north 
gates of the town, near Madame Carimon s. The sun 
shone full upon the benches beneath it, which it 
sheltered from the bleak winds ; in front was a patch 
of green grass, on which the children ran about amidst 
the straight poplar trees. It was very pleasant sitting 
there, even on this December day — bright and cheer- 
ful ; the wall behind them was quite warm, the sun- 
shine rested upon all. \ 

Sitting there, Lavinia Preen told Madame Carimon 
of the curious dread of entering her house at night, 
which had pursued her for the past two months that 
she had been alone in it, and which she had never 
spoken of to any one before. She went on to speak 
of the belief that she had seen Captain Fennel the 



68 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

previous night in the passage, and of the dream which 
had visited her when at length she fell asleep. 

Madame Carimon turned her kindly, sensible face 
and her quiet, dark, surprised eyes upon Lavinia. '^ I 
cannot understand you/' she said. 

'' You mean, I suppose, that you cannot understand 
the facts, Marj^ Neither can I. Why this fear of 
going into the house should lie upon me is most 
stranofe. I never was nervous before." 

''I don't know that that is so very strange," dis- 
sented Mary Carimon, after a pause. " It must seem 
lonely to let one's self into a dark, empty house in 
the middle of the night ; and your house is in what 
may be called an isolated situation ; I should not 
much like it myself. That's nothing. What I cannot 
understand, Lavinia, is the fancy that you saw Captain 
Fennel." 

" He appeared to be standing there, and was quite 
visible to me. The expression on his face, which 
seemed to be looking straight into mine, was most 
malicious. I never saw such an expression upon it in 
reality." 

Mary Carimon laughed a little, saying she had never 
been troubled with nervous fears herself ; she was too 
practical for anything of the sort. 

''And I have been practical hitherto," returned 
Lavinia. ^'When the first surprise of seeing him 
there, or fancying I saw him there, was over, I began 
to think, Mary, that he might be dead ; that it was 
his apparition which had stood there looking at 
me." 

Mary Carimon shook her head. '' Had anything of 
that sort happened, Nancy would have telegraphed to 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 69 

you. Rely upon it, Lavinia, it was pure fancy. You 
have been disagreeably exercised in mind lately, you 
know, about that man ; hearing he was coming home, 
your brain was somewhat thrown off its balance." 

'' It may be so. The dream followed on it ; and I 
did not like the dream." 

" We all have bad dreams now and then. You say 
you do not remember much of this one." 

'' I think I did not know much of it when dreaming 
it," quaintly spoke Lavinia. ''I was in a sea of 
trouble, throughout which I seemed to be striving to 
escape some evil menaced me by Captain Fennel, and 
could not do so. "Whichever way I turned, there he 
was at a distance, scowling at me with a threatening, 
evil countenance. Mary," she added in impassioned 
tones, "I am sure some ill awaits me from that 
man." 

" I am sure, were I you, I would put these foolish 
notions from me," calmly spoke Madame Carimon. 
" If Nancy set up a vocation for seeing ghosts and 
dreaming dreams, one would not so much wonder at 
it. Yoib have always been reasonable, I^avinia ; be so 
now." 

Miss Preen took out her watch and looked at it. 
"We may as well be walking towards the port, Mary," 
she remarked. " It is past two. The boat ought to 
be in sight." 

Not only in sight was the steamer, but rapidly 
nearing the port. She had made a calm and quick 
passage. When at length she was in and about to 
swing round, and the two ladies were looking down at 
it, with a small crowd of other assembled spectators, 
the first passengers they saw on board were Nancy 



10 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

and Captain Fennel, who began to wave their hands 
in greeting and to nod their heads. 

"Any way, Lavinia, it could not have been his 
ghost last night," whispered Mary Carimon. 

Far from presenting an evil countenance to Lavinia, 
as the daj^s passed on. Captain Fennel appeared to wish 
to please her, and was all suavity. So at present nothing 
disturbed the peace of the Petite Maison Rouge. 

" What people were they that you stayed with in 
London, Nancy ? '' Lavinia inquired of her sister on 
the first favourable opportunity. 

Nancy glanced round the salon before answering, as 
if to make sure they were alone ; but Captain Fennel 
had gone out for a stroll. 

" We were at James Fennel's, Lavinia.'' 

" What — the brother's ! And has he a wife ? " 

^•' Yes ; a wife, but no children. Mrs. James Fennel 
has money of her own, which she receives weekly." 

" Receives weekly ! " echoed Lavinia. 

*' She owns some little houses which are let out in 
weekly tenements ; an agent collects the rents, and 
brings her the money every Tuesday morning. She 
dresses in the shabbiest things sometimes, and does 
her own housework, and altogether is not what I 
should call quite a lady, but she is very good-hearted. 
She did her best to make us comfortable, and never 
grumbled at our staying so long. I expect Edwin 
paid her something. James only came home by fits 
and starts. I think he was in some embarrassment — 
debt, you know. He used to dash into the house like 
a whirlwind when he did come, and steal out of it 
when he left, peering about on all sides." 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 71 

" Have they a nice house ? '' asked Lavinia. 

'' Oh, good gracious, no ! It's not a house at all, 
only small lodgings. And Mrs. James changed them 
twice over whilst we were there. When we first 
went they were at a place called Ball's Pond." 

^' Why did you remain all that time ? '' 

Mrs. Edwin Fennel shook her head helplessly ; she 
could not answer the question. " I should have liked 
to come back before," she said; "it was very weari- 
some, knowing nobody and having nothing to do. 
Did you find it dull here, Lavinia, all by yourself? " 

"'Duir is not the right word for it," answered 
Lavinia, catching her breath with a sigh. '^ I felt 
more lonely, Ann, than I shall ever care to feel again. 
Especially when I had to come home at night from 
some soiree, or from spending the evening quietly 
with Mary Carimon or any other friend." And she 
went on to tell of the feeling of terror which had so 
tried her. 

'' I never heard of such a thing ! " exclaimed Ann. 
" How silly you must be, Lavinia ! What could there 
have been in the house to frighten you ? " 

" I don't know ; I wish I did know," sighed Lavinia, 
just as she had said more than once before. 

Nancy, who was attired in a bright ruby cashmere 
robe, with a gold chain and locket, some blue ribbons 
adorning her light ringlets, for she had made a point 
of dressing more youthfully than ever since her 
marriage, leaned back in her chair, as she sat staring 
at her sister and thinking. 

" Lavinia," she said huskily, " you remember the 
feeling you had the day we were about to look at the 
house with Mary Carimon, and which you thought 



72 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

was through the darkness of the passage striking you 
unpleasantly ? Well, my opinion is that it must have 
given you a scare." 

" Why, of course it did." 

"Ah, but I mean a scare which lasts," said Ann; 
" one of those scares which affect the mind and take 
very long to get rid of. You recollect poor Mrs. Hunt, 
at Buttermead ? She was frightened at a violent 
thunderstorm, though she never had been before ; and 
for years afterwards, whenever it thundered, she 
became so alarmingly ill and agitated that Mr. 
Featherston had to be run for. He called it a scare. 
I think the fear you felt that past day must have left 
that sort of scare upon you. How else can you 
account for what you tell me ? " 

Truth to say, the same idea had more than once 
struck Lavinia. She knew how devoid of reason some 
of these " scares " are, and yet how terribly they dis- 
turb the mind on which they fasten. 

"But I had quite forgotten that fear, Ann," she 
urged in reply. *' We had lived in the house eighteen 
months when you went away, and I had ne\^er 
recalled it." 

" All the same, I think you received the scare ; it 
had only lain dormant," persisted Ann. 

"Well, well; you are back again now, and it is 
over," said Lavinia. " Let us forget it. Do not speak 
of it again at all to any one, Nancy love." 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 73, 



VIII. 

Winter that year had quite set in when Sainteville 
found itself honoured with rather a remarkable visitor ; 
one Signor Talcke, who descended, one morning at 
the beginning of December, at the Hotel des Princes. 
Though he called himself ''Signor," it seemed un^- 
certain to what country he owed his birth. He spoke 
five or six languages as a native, including Hindustani. 
Signor Talcke was a professor of occult sciences ; he was 
a great astronomer; astrology he had at his fingers' 
ends. He was a powerful mesmerist ; he would fore- 
tell the events of your life by your hands, or your 
fortune by the cards. 

For a fee of twenty-five francs, he would attend 
an evening party, and exhibit some of his powers. 
Amidst others who engaged him were the Miss 
Bosanquets, in the Rue Lamartine. A relative of 
theirs, Sir George Bosanquet, K.C.B., had come over 
with his wife to spend Chiistmas with them. Sir 
George laughed at what he heard of Signor Talcke's 
powers of reading the future, and said he should much 
like to witness a specimen of it. So Miss Bosanquet 
and her sisters hastily arranged an evening entertain- 
ment, engaged the mystical man, and invited their 
friends and acquaintances, those of the Petite Maison 
Rouge included. 

It took place on the Friday after Christmas-Day. 
Something that occurred during the evening was 
rather remarkable. Miss Preen's diary gives a full 
account of it, and that shall be transcribed here. And 
I, Johnny Ludlow, take this opportunity of assuring 



74 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

the reader that what she wrote was in faithful accord- 
ance with the facts of the case. 



From Miss Preens Diary. 

Saturday morning. — I feel very tired ; fit for 
nothing. Nancy has undertaken to do the market- 
ing, and is gone out for that purpose with her 
husband. It is to be hoped she will be moderate, 
and not attempt to buy up half the market. 

I lay awake all night, after the evening at Miss 
Bosanquet's, thinking how foolish Ann was to have 
had her "future cast," as that Italian (if he is Italian) 
called it, and how worse than foolish I was to let 
what he said worry me. ^' As if there could be any- 
thing in it ! " laughed Ann, as we were coming home ; 
fortunately she is not as I am in temperament — 
nervously anxious. " It is only nonsense," said Miss 
Anna Bosanquet to me when the signor s predictions 
were at an end; ^'he will tell some one else just the 
same next time." But / did not think so. Of course, 
one is at a loss how to trust this kind of man. Take 
him for all in all, I rather like him ; and he appears 
to believe implicitly in what he says : or, rather, in 
what he tell us the cards say. 

They are charming women, these three sisters- 
Grace, Eose, and Anna Bosanquet ; good, considerate, 
high-bred ladies. I wonder how it is they have lived 
to middle life without any one of them marrying ? 
And I often wonder how they came to take up their 
residence at Sainteville, for they are very well off, and 
have great connections. I remember, though, Anna once 
said to me that the dry, pure air of the place suited 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 75 

her sister Rose, who has bad health, better than any 
other they had tried. i 

When seven o'clock struck, the hour named, Nancy 
and I appeared together in the sitting-room, ready to 
start, for we observe punctuality at Sainteville. I 
wore my black satin, handsome yet, trimmed with the 
rich white lace that Mrs. Selby gave me. Nancy 
looked very nice and young in her lilac silk. She 
wore a white rose in her hair, and her gold chain and 
locket round her neck. Captain Fennel surprised us 
by saying he was* not going — his neuralgia had come 
on. I fancied it was an excuse — that he did not wish 
to meet Sir George Bosanquet. He had complained of 
the same thing on Christmas-Day, so it might be true. 
Ann and I set off together, leaving him nursing his 
cheek at the table. 

It was a large gathering for Sainteville — forty 
guests, I should think; but the rooms are large. 
Professor Talcke exhibited some wonderful feats in — 
what shall I call it ?~-necromancy ? — as good a word, 
perhaps, as any other. He mesmerized some people, 
and put one of them into a state of clairvoyance, and 
her revelations took my breath away. Signor Talcke 
assured us that what she said would be found minutely 
true. I think he has the strangest eyes I ever saw : 
grey eyes, with a sort of light in their depths. His 
features are fair and delicate, his voice is gentle as a 
woman's, his manner retiring; Sir George seemed 
much taken with him. 

Later, when the evening was passing, he asked if 
any one present would like to have their future cast, 
for he had cards which would do it. Three of his 
listeners pressed forward at once ; two of them with 



76 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

gay laughter, the other pale and awestruck. The 
signor went into the recess in the small room, and 
sat down behind the little table there, and as many 
as could crowd round to look on, did so. I don't 
know what passed ; there was no room for me ; or 
whether the '' Futures " he disclosed were good or bad. 
I had sat on the sofa at a distance, talking with Anna 
Bosanquet and Madame Carimon. 

Suddenly, as we were for a moment silent, Ann's 
voice was heard, eager and laughing : 

" Will you tell my fortune, Signor Talcke ? I should 
like to have mine revealed." 

" With pleasure, madame," he answered. 
We got up and drew near. I felt vexed that Ann 
should put herself forward in any such matter, and 
whispered to her; but she only shook her curls, 
laughed at me, and persisted. Signor Talcke put the 
cards in her hands, telling her to shuffle them. 

" It is all fun, Lavinia,'' she whispered to me. " Did 
you hear him tell Miss Peet she was going to have 
money left her ? " 

After Ann had shuffled the cards, he made her cut 
them into three divisions, and he then turned them up 
on the table himself, faces upwards, and laid them out 
in three rows. They were not like the cards we play 
with ; quite different from those ; nearly all were 
picture-cards, and the plain ones bore cabalistic 
characters. We stood looking on with two or three 
other people ; the rest had dispersed, and had gone 
into the next room to listen to the singing. 

At first Signor Talcke never spoke a word. He 
looked at the cards, and looked at Nancy; looked, and 
looked again. '' They are not propitious," he said in 



FEATHEBSTON^S STORY. 77 

low tones, and picked them np, and asked Nancy to 
shuffle and cut them again. Then he laid them as 
before, and we stood waiting in silence. 

Chancing at that moment to look at Signor Talcke, 
his face startled me. He was frowning at the cards 
in so painful a manner as to quite alter its expression. 
But he did not speak. He still only gazed at the 
cards with bent eyes, and glanced up at Ann occa- 
sionally. Then, with an impatient sweep of the hand, 
he pushed the cards together. 

*' I must trouble you to shuffle and cut them once 
more, madame," he said. '' Shuffle them well." 

"Are they still unpropitious ? " asked a jesting 
voice at my elbow. Turning, I saw Charley Palliser's 
smiling face. He must have been standing there, and 
heard Signor Talcke's previous remark. 

'' Yes, sir, they are," replied the signor, with marked 
emphasis. "I never saw the cards so unpropitious in 
my life." 

Nancy took up the cards, shuffled them well, and 
cut them three times. Signor Talcke laid them out 
as before, bent his head, and looked attentively at 
them. He did not speak, but there was no mistaking 
the vexed, pained, and puzzled look on his face. 

I do not think he knew Nancy, even by name. I 
do not think he knew me, or had the least notion that 
we were related. Neither of us had ever met him 
before. He put his hand to his brow, still gazing at 
the cards. 

''But when are you going to begin my fortune, 
sir ? " broke in Nancy. 

" I would rather not tell it at all, madame," he 
answered. 



78 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'^ Cannot you tell it ? — have your powers of fore- 
casting inconveniently run away ? " said she in- ^ 
cautiously, her tone mocking in her disappointment. 

" I could tell it, all too surely ; but you might not 
like to hear it," returned he. 

" Our magician has lost his divining-rod just when 
he needed it," observed a gentleman with a grey 
beard, a stranger to me, who was standing opposite, 
speaking in a tone of ill-natured satire ; and a laugh 
went round. 

" It is not that," said the signor, keeping his temper 
perfectly. "I could tell what the cards say, all too 
certainly ; but it would not give satisfaction." 

" Oh yes, it would," returned Nancj^ " I should 
like to hear it, every bit of it. Please do begin." 

"The cards are dark, very dark indeed," he said; 
'^I dont remember ever to have seen them like it. 
Each time they have been turned the darkness has 
increased. Nothing can show worse than they do 
now." 

"Never mind that," gaily returned Ann. "You 
undertook to tell my fortune, sir ; and you ought not 
to make excuses in the middle of it. Let the cards 
be as dark as night, we must hear what they say." 

He drew in his thin lips for a moment, and then 
spoke, his tone quiet, calm, unemotional. 

" Some great evil threatens you," he began ; " you 
seem to be living in the midst of it. It is not only 
you that it threatens ; there is another also " 

" Oh, my goodness ! " interupted Nancy, in her 
childish way. "I hope it does not threaten Edwin, 
What is the evil ? — sickness ? " 

"Worse than that. It — is " Signor Talcke's 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 79 

attention was so absorbed by the aspect of .the cards 
that, as it struck me, he appeared hardly to heed 
what he was saying. He had a long, thin black pencil 
in his long, thin fingers, and kept pointing to different 
cards as if in accordance with his thoughts, but not 
touching them. ^' There is some peculiar form of 
terror here," he went on. " I cannot make it out ; it 
is very unusual. It does not come close to you ; not 
yet, at any rate ; and it seems to surround you. It 
seems to be in the house. May I ask" — quickly 
lifting his eyes to Ann — '' whether you are given to 
superstitious fears ? " 

" Do you mean ghosts ? " cried Ann, and Charley 
Palliser burst out laughing. '' Not at all, sir ; I don t 
believe in ghosts. I'm sure there are none in our 
house." 

Kemembering my own terror in regard to the house, 
and the nervous fancy of having seen Captain Fennel 
in it when he was miles away, a curious impression 
came over me that he must surely be reading my 
fortune as well as Nancy's. But I was not prepared 
for her next words. Truly she has no more reticence 
than a child. 

" My sister has a feeling that the house is lonely. 
She shivers when she has to go into it after night- 
fall." 

Signor Talcke let his hands fall on the table, and 
lifted his face. Apparently, he was digesting this 
revelation. I do not think he knew the " sister " was 
present. For my part, disliking publicity, I slipped 
behind Anna Bosanquet, and stood by Charley Palliser. 

'^ Shivers ? " repeated the Italian. 

"Shivers and trembles, and turns sick at having to 



80 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

go in/' affirmed Nancy. "So she told me when I 
arrived home from England." 

'' If a feeling of that sort assailed me, I should never 
go into the house again," said the signor. 

"But how could you help it, if it were your 
home ? " she argued. 

"All the same. I should regard that feeling as a 
warning against the house, and never enter it. Then 
you are not j^ourself troubled with superstitious 
fears ? " he broke off, returning to the business in 
hand, and looking at the cards. '' Well — at present — 
it does not seem to touch you, this curious terror 
which is assuredly in the house " 

'' I beg your pardon," interrupted Ann. " Why do 
you say ' at present ' ? Is it to touch me later ? " 

" I cannot say. Each time that the cards have been 
spread it has shown itself nearer to you. It is not 
yet very near. Apart from that terror — or perhaps 
remotely connected with it — I see evil threatening 
you — great evil." 

"Is it in the house?" 

" Yes ; hovering about it. It is not only yourself it 
seems to threaten. There is some one else. And it is 
nearer to that person than it is to you." 

*' But who is that person ? — man or woman ? " 

" It is a woman. See this ugly card," continued 
he, pointing with his pencil; '4t will not be got rid 
of, shuffle as you will ; it has come nearer to that 
woman each time." 

The card he pointed to was more curious-looking 
than any other in the pack. It was not unlike the 
nine of spades, but crowded with devices. The 
gentleman opposite, whom I did not know, leaned 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 8l 

forward and touched the card with the tip of his 
forefinger. 

" Le cercueil, n'est-ce-pas ? " said he. 

" My ! " whispered an English lad's voice behind me, 
'' Cercueil ? that means coffin." 

" How did you know ? " asked Signor Talcke of the 
grey -bearded man. 

''I was at the Sous- Prefect's soiree on Sunday 
evening when you were exhibiting. I heard you tell 
him in French that that was the ugliest card in the 
pack : indicating death." 

*' Well, it is not this lady the card is pursuing," said 
the signor, smiling at Ann to reassure her. " Not yet 
awhile, at least. And we must all be pursued by it 
in our turn, whenever that shall come," he added, 
bending over the cards again. " Pardon me, madame 
— may I ask whether there has not been some un- 
pleasantness in the house concerning money ? " 

Nancy's face turned red. " Not — exactly," she 
answered with hesitation. " We are like a great 
many more people — not as rich as we should wish 
to be." 

'' It does not appear to lie precisely in the want of 
money : but certainly money is in some way connected 
with the evil," he was beginning to say, his eyes fixed 
dreamily on the cards, when Ann interrupted him. 

'' That is too strong a word— evil. Why do you 
use it?" 

"I use it because the evil is there. No lighter 
word would be appropriate. There is some evil 
element pervading your house, very grave and formid- 
able ; it is most threatening ; likely to go on to — to — 
darkness. I mean that it looks as if there would bd 

Johnny Ludlow.— V. 6 



S2 ' JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

some great break-up/' he corrected swiftly, as if to 
soften the other word. 

'' That the house woukl be broken up ? " questioned 
Ann. 

He stole a glance at her. '' Something of that sort/' 
he said carelessly. 

"Do you mean that the evil comes from an 
enemy ? " she went on. 

'' Assuredly.'' 

''But we have no enemy. I'm sure we have not 
one in all the world." 

He slightly shook his head. " You may not suspect 
it yet, though I should have said " — waving the pencil 
thoughtfully over some of the cards — ''that he was 
already suspected — doubted." 

Nancy took up the personal pronoun briskly. 
'' He ! — then the evil enemy must be a man ? I 
assure you we do not know any man likely to be our 
enemy or to wish us harm. No, nor woman either. 
Perhaps your cards don't tell true to-night. Signer 
Talcke ? " 

"Perhaps not, madame; we will let it be so if 
you will," he quietly said, and shuffled all the cards 
together. 

That ended the seance. As if determined not to 
tell any more fortunes, the signer hurriedly put up 
the cards and disappeared from the recess. Nancy 
did not appear to be in the least impressed. 

"What a curious 'future' it was ! " she exclaimed 
lightly to Mary Carimon. " I might as well not have 
had it cast. He told me nothing/' 

They walked away together, I went back to the 
sofa and Anna Bosanquet followed me. 



FEATHEESTON'S STORY, 83 

"Mrs. Fennel calls it 'curious/" I said to her. *'I 
call it more than that — strange; ominous. I wish I 
had not heard it." 

" Dear Miss Preen, it is only nonsense," she answered. 
*' He will tell some one else the same next time." But 
she only so spoke to console me. 

A wild wish flashed into my mind — that I should 
ask the man to tell my future. But had I not heard 
enough ? Mine was blended with this of Ann's. I 
was the other woman whom the dark fate was more 
relentlessly pursuing. There could be no doubt of 
that. There could be as little doubt that it w^as I 
who already suspected the author of the " evil." 
What can the " dark fate " be that we are threatened 
with ? Debt ? Will his debts spring upon us and 
break up our home, and turn us out of it ? Or will 
it be something worse ? That card which followed 
me meant a cofSn, they said. Ah me ! Perhaps I am 
foolish to dwell upon such ideas. Certainly they are 
more fitting for the world's dark ages than for this 
enlightened nineteenth century of it. 

Charley Palliser gallantly offered to see us home. 
I said no ; as if we were not old enough to go by 
ourselves ; but he would come with us. As we went 
along Ann began talking of the party, criticizing the 
dresses, and so on. Charley seemed to be unusually 
silent. 

'' Was not mine a grand fortune ? " she presently 
said with a laugh, as we crossed the Place Ronde. 

'^ Stunning," said he. 

*' As if there could be anything in it, you know ! 
Does the man think we believe him, I wonder ? " 

''Oh, these conjurers like to fancy they impose on 



84 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

us," remarked Charley, shaking hands as we halted 
before the house of Madame Sauvage. 

And I have had a wretched night, for somehow the 
thing has frightened me. I never was superstitious ; 
never ; and I'm sure I never believed in conjurers, as 
Charles had it. If I should come across Signor Talcke 

again while he stays here, I would ask him 

Here comes Nancy ! and Flore behind her with the 
marketings. I'll put up my diary. 

" I've bought such a lovely capon," began Nancy, as 
Lavinia went into the kitchen. " Show it to madame, 
Flore." 

It was one that even Lavinia could praise; they 
both understood poultry. ''It really is a beauty," 
said Lavinia. " And did you remember the salsifis ? 
And, Ann, where have you left your husband ? " 

'' Oh, we met old Mr. GrifSn, and Edwin has gone 
up to Drecques with him. My opinion is, Lavinia, 
that that poor old GriflSn dare not go about far by 
himself since his attack. He had to see his landlord 
at Drecques to-day, and he asked Edwin to accompany 
him. They went by the eleven-o'clock train." 

Lavinia felt it a relief. Even that little absence, 
part of a day, she felt thankful for, so much had she 
grown to dislike the presence in the house of Edwin 
Fennel. 

'' Did you tell your husband about your ' fortune,' 
Nancy ? " 

" No ; I was too sleepy last night to talk, and I 
was late in getting up this morning. I'm not sure 
that I shall tell him/' added Mrs. Fennel thoughtfully ; 
*'lie might be angry with me for having had it done." 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 85 

" That is more than likely," replied Lavinia. 

Late in the afternoon, as they were sitting together 
in the salon, they saw the postman come marching up 
the yard. He brought two letters — one for Miss 
Preen, the other for her sister. 

"It is the remittance from William Selby," said 
Lavinia as she opened hers. " He has sent it a day 
or two earlier than usual ; it is not really due until 
Monday or Tuesday." 

Seventeen pounds ten shillings each. Nancy, in 
a hasty sort of manner, put her cheque into the hands 
of Lavinia, almost as if she feared it would burn her 
own fingers. " You had better take it from me whilst 
vou can," she said in low tones. 

" Yes ; for I must have it, Ann," was the answer. 
" We are in debt — as you may readily conceive — with 
only half the usual amount to spend last quarter." 

" It was not my fault ; I was very sorry," said Ann 
humbly ; and she rose hastily to go to the kitchen, 
saying she was thirsty, and Vv^anted a glass of water. 
But Lavinia thought she went to avoid being ques- 
tioned. 

Lavinia carried the two cheques to her room and 
locked them up. After their five-o'clock dinner, each 
sister wrote a note to Colonel Selby, enclosing her 
receipt. Flore took them out to post when she left. 
The evening passed on. Lavinia worked ; Nancy 
nodded over the fire : she was very sleepy, and went 
to bed early. 

It was past eleven o'clock when Captain Fennel 
came iu, a little the worse for something or other. 
After returning from Drecques by the last train, he 
had gone home with Mr. Grifiin to supper. He told 



80 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Lavinia, in words running into one another, that the 
jolting train had made him giddy. Of course she 
believed as much of that as she liked, but did not 
contradict it. He went to the cupboard in the recess, 
unlocked it to get out the cognac, and then sat down 
with his pipe by the embers of the dying fire. Lavinia^, 
unasked, brought in a decanter of water, put it on the 
table with a glass, and wished him good-night. 

All next day Captain Fennel lay in bed with a 
racking headache. His wife carried up a choice bit 
of the capon when they were dining after morning 
service, but he could not so much as look at it. Being 
a fairly cautious man as a rule, he had to pay for — for 
the jolting of the train. 

He was better on Monday morning, but not well, 
still shaky, and did not come down to breakfast. It 
was bitterly cold — a sort of black frost ; but Lavinia, 
wrapping herself up warmly, went out as soon as 
breakfast was over. i 

Her first errand was to the bank, where she paid in 
the cheques and received French money for them. 
Then she visited sundry shops; the butchers, the 
grocer s, and others, settling the accounts due. Last 
of all, she made a call upon Madame Veuve Sauvage, 
and paid the rent for the past quarter. All this left 
her with exactly nineteen pounds, which was all the 
money she had to go on with for every purpose until 
the end of March — three whole months. 

Lunch was ready when she returned. Taking ofi" 
her things upstairs and locking up her cash, she went 
down to it. Flore had made some delicious soupe 
maigre. Only those who have tried it know how 
good it is on a sharp winter's day. Captain Fennel 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 87 

seemed to relish it much, though his appetite had not 
quite come back to him, and he turned from the dish 
of scrambled eggs which supplemented the soup. In 
the evening they went, by appointment, to ' dine at 
Madame Carimon's, the other guests being Monsieur 
Henri Dupuis with his recently married wife, and 
Charles Palliser. 

After dinner, over the coffee, Monsieur Henri 
Dupuis suddenly spoke of the soiree at Miss Bosan- 
quet's the previous Friday, regretting that he and his 
wife had been unable to attend it. He was engaged 
the whole evening with a patient dangerously ill, 
and his wife did not like to appear at it without 
him. Nancy — Nancy ! — then began to tell about the 
" fortune " which had been forecast for her by Signer 
Talcke, thinking possibly that her husband could not 
reproach her for it before company. She was very 
gay over it ; a proof that it had left no bad impression 
on her mind. 

" What's that, Nancy ? " cried Captain Fennel, who 
had listened as if he disbelieved his ears. " The fellow 
told you we had something evil in our house ? " 

'•' Yes, he did," assented Nancy. " An evil influence, 
he said, which was destined to bring forth something 
dark and dreadful." 

" I am sorrj^ you did not tell this before," returned 
the captain stiffly. "I should have requested you 
not again to allude to such folly. It was downright 
insolence." 

"I — you— you were out on Saturday, you know, 
Edwin, and in bed with your headache all Sunday ; 
and to=day I forgot it," said Nancy in less brave 
toneOo 



88 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

" Suppose we have a game at wholesome card- 
playing," interposed Mary Carimon, bringing forth a 
new pack. " Open them, will yon, Jules ? Do you 
remember, mon ami, having your fortune told once by 
a gipsy woman when we were in Sir John Whitney's 
coppice with the two Peckham girls ? She told you 
you would fall into a rich inheritance and marry a 
Frenchwoman." 

'' Neither of which agreeable promises is yet ful- 
filled/' said little Monsieur Carimon with his happy 
smile. Monsieur Carimon had heard the account of 
Nancy's " forecast " from his wife ; he was not himself 
present, but taking a hand at whist in the card- 
room. 

They sat down to a round game — spin. Monsieur 
Henri Dupuis and his pretty young wife had never 
played it before, but they soon learned it and liked it 
much. Both of them spoke English well ; she with 
the prettiest accent imaginable. Thus the evening 
passed, and no more allusion was made to the fortune- 
telling at Miss Bosanquet's. 

That was Monday. On Tuesday, Miss Preen was 
dispensing the coffee at breakfast in the Petite Maison 
Kouge to her sister and Mr. Fennel, when Flore came 
bustling in with a letter in her hand. 

'' Tenez, madame," she said, putting it beside Mrs. 
Fennel. "I laid it down in the kitchen when the 
facteur brought it, whilst I Avas preparing the dejeuner, 
and forgot it afterwards." 

Before Nancy could touch the letter, her husband 
caught it up. He gazed at the address, at the post- 
mark, and turned it about to look at the seal. The 
letters of gentlefolk were generally fastened with a 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 89 

seal in those days : this had one in transparent bronze 
wax. 

Mr. Fennel put the letter down with a remark 
peevishly uttered. '"' It is not from London ; it is from 
Buttermead." 

" And from your old friend, Jane Peckham, Nancj^/' 
struck in Lavinia. '' I recognize her handwriting." 

*' I am glad," exclaimed Nancy. '' I have not heard 
from them for ages. Why now — is it not odd ? — 
that Madame Carimon should mention the Peckhams 
last night, and I receive a letter from them this 
morning ? " 

'' I supposed it might be from London, with yowx 
remittance," said Mr. Fennel to his wife. '' It is due, 
is it not ? " 

" Oh, that came on Saturday, Edwin," she said, as 
she opened her letter. 

" Came on Saturday ! " echoed Captain Fennel un- 
graciously, as if disputing the assertion. 

" By the afternoon post ; you vf ere at Drecques^ 
you know." 

" The money came ? Your money ? " 

'' Yes," said Nancy, who had stepped to the window 
to read her letter, for it was a dark day, and stood 
there with her back to the room. 

"And where is it ? " demanded he. 

" I gave it to Lavinia. I always give it to her." 

Captain Fennel glared at his wife for a moment, 
then smoothed his face to its ordinary placidity, and 
turned to Lavinia. 

" Will you be good enough to hand over to me my 
wife's money. Miss Preen ? " 

'' No/' she answered quietly. 



90 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' I must trouble you to do so, when breakfast shall 
be finished." 

'' I cannot/' pursued Lavinia, " I have paid it 
away/' 

"That I do not believe. I claim it from you in 
right of my wife ; and I shall enforce the claim." 

"The money is Nancy's, not yours/' said Lavinia. 
''In consequence of your having stopped her share 
last quarter in London, I was plunged here into debt 
and great inconvenience. Yesterday morning I went 
out to settle the debts — and it has taken the whole of 
her money to do it. That is the state of things, 
Captain Fennel." 

"I am in debt here myself/' retorted he, but not 
angrily. " I owe money to my tailor and bootmaker ; 
I owe an account at the chemist's ; I want money in 
my pockets — and I must indeed have it." 

" Not from me," returned Lavinia. ^ 

Edwin Fennel broke into a little access of temper* 
He dashed his serviette on the table, strode to the 
window, and roughly caught his wife by the arm. 
She cried out. 

" How dared you hand your money to any one but 
me ? " he asked in a low voice of passion. 

" But how are we to live if I don't give it to 
Lavinia for the housekeeping ? " returned Nancy, 
bursting into tears. " It takes all v/e have ; her 
share and mine ; every farthing of it." 

" Let my sister alone, Mr. Fennel," spoke up Lavinia 
with authority. " She is responsible for the debts we 
contract in this house, just as much as I am, and she 
must contribute her part to pay them. You ought to 
be aware that the expenses are now increased by 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 91 

nearly a third ; I assure you I hardly like to face the 

difficulties I see before me/' 

, '^ Do you suppose I can stop in the place without 

some loose cash to keep me going ? " he asked calmly. 

" Is that reasonable, Miss Lavinia ? " 

i " And do you suppose I can keep you and Ann here 

without her money to help me to do it ? " she rejoined. 

" Perhaps the better plan Avill be for me to take up 

my abode elsewhere, and leave the house to you and 

Ann to do as you please in it/' 

Captain Fennel dropped his argument, returned to 
the table, and went on with his breakfast. The last 
words had startled him. Without Lavinia, which 
meant without her money, they could not live in the 
house at all. 

Matters were partly patched up in the course of the 
day. Nancy came upstairs to Lavinia, begging and 
praying, as if she were praying for her life, for a little 
ready monej^ for her husband — just a hundred francs. 
Trembling and sobbing, she confessed that she dared 
not return to him without it; she should be too 
frightened at his anger. 

And Lavinia gave it to her. 



IX. 

Matters went on to the spring. There were no 
outward differences in the Petite Maison Rouge, but 
it was full of an undercurrent of discomfort. At least 
for Lavinia. Captain Fennel was simply to her an 
incubus; and now and again petty accounts of his 



92 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

would be brought to the door by tradespeople who 
wanted them settled. As to keeping up the legitimate 
payments, she could not do it. 

March was drawing to an end, when a surprise 
came to them. Lavinia received a letter from Paris, 
written by Colonel Selby. He had been there for 
two days on business, he said, and purposed returning 
via Sainteville, to take a passing glimpse at herself 
and her sister. He hoped to be down that afternoon 
by the three-o'clock train, and he asked them to meet 
him at the Hotel des Princes afterwards, and to stay 
and dine with him. He proposed crossing to London 
by the night boat. 

Lavinia read the letter aloud. Nancy went into 
ecstasies, for a wonder ; she had been curiously 
subdued in manner lately. Edwin Fennel made no 
remark, but his pale face wore a look of thought. 

During the morning he betook himself to the Rue 
Lothaire to call upon Mr. Griffin ; and he persuaded 
that easy-natured old gentleman to take advantage 
of the sunny day and make an excursion en voiture 
to the nearest town, a place called Pontipette. Of 
course the captain went also, as his companion. 

Colonel Selby arrived at three. Lavinia and 
Nancy met him at the station, and went with him in 
the omnibus to the hotel. They then showed him 
about Sainteville, to which he was a stranger, took 
him to see their domicile, the little red house (which 
he did not seem to admire), and thence to Madame 
Carimon s. In the Buttermead days, the colonel and 
Mary Featherston had been great friends. He invited 
her and her husband to join them at the table d'hote 
dinner at five o'clock, 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 93 

Lavinia and Nancy went home again to change 
their dresses for it. Nancy put on a pretty light 
green silk, which had been recently modernized. Mrs. 
Selby had kept up an extensive wardrobe, and had 
left it between the two sisters. 

"You should wear your gold chain and locket," 
remarked Lavinia, who always took pride in her 
sisters appearance. "It will look very nice upon 
that dress.'' 

She alluded to a short, thick chain of gold, the gold 
locket attached to it being set round with pearls, 
Nancy's best ornament ; nay, the only one she had of 
any value; it was the one she had worn at Miss 
Bosanquet's celebrated party. Nancy made no answer. 
She was turning red and white. 

" What's the matter ? " cried Lavinia. 

The matter Avas, that Mr. Edwin Fennel had obtained 
possession of the chain and locket more than a month 
ago. Silly Nancy confessed with trembling lips that 
she feared he had pledged it. 

Or sold it, thought Lavinia. She felt terribly vexed 
and indignant. "I suppose, Ann, it will end in his 
grasping everything," she said, "and starving us out 
of house and home : onyself, at any rate." 

"He expects money from his brother James, and 
then he will get it back for me," twittered Nancy. 

Monsieur Jules Carimon was not able to come to 
the table d'hote ; his duties that night would detain 
him at the college until seven o'clock. It happened 
so on occasion. Colonel Selby sat at one end of their 
party, Lavinia at the other ; Mary Carimon and Nancy 
between them. A gentleman was on the other side o£ 
Lavinia whom she did not particularly notice ; and, 



04 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

upon his asking the waiter for something, his voice 
seemed to strike upon her memory. Turning, she saw 
that it w^as the tall Englishman they had seen on the 
pier some months before in the shepherd's plaid, the 
lawyer named Loekett. He recognized her face at 
the same moment, and they entered into conversation. 

" Are you making any stay at Sainteville ? " she 
inquired. 

'^ For a few days. I must be back in London on 
Monday morning/' 

Colonel Selby's attention was attracted to the 
speakers. " What, is it you, Loekett ? " he exclaimed. 

Mr. Loekett bent forward to look beyond Lavinia 
and Madame Carimon. '' Why, colonel, are you here ? " 
he cried. So it was evident that they knew one 
another. 

But you can't talk very much across people at a 
table d'hote ; and Lavinia and Mr. Loekett were, so to 
say, left together again. She put a question to him, 
dropping her voice to a whisper. 

" Did you ever find that person you were looking 
for ? " 

'' The person I was looking for ? " repeated the 
lawyer, not remembering. ^' What person was that ? " 

"The one you spoke of on the pier that day — a 
Mr. Dangerfield." 

^' Oh, ay ; but I was not looking for him myself. 
No ; I believe he is not dropped upon yet. He is 
keeping quiet, I expect." 

" Is he still being looked for ? " 

" Little doubt of that. My friend here, on my left, 
could tell you more about him than I can, if you want 
to know." 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY, 95 

" No, thank you/' said Lavinia hastily, in a sort of 
feai*. And she then observed that next to Mr. Loekett 
another Englishman was sitting, who looked very 
much like a lawyer also. 

After dinner Colonel Selby took his guests, the 
three ladies, into the little salon, which opened to 
Madame Podevin's bureau ; for it was she who, French 
fashion, kept the bureau and all its accounts, not her 
husband. Whilst the coffee which the colonel ordered 
was preparing, he took from his pocket-book two 
cheques, and gave one each to Lavinia and Mrs. 
Fennel. It was their quarterly income, due about a 
week hence. 

" I thought I might as well give it you now, as I 
am here, and save the trouble of sending," he re- 
marked. " You can write me a receipt for it ; here's 
pen, ink and paper." 

Each wrote her receipt, and gave it him. Nancy 
held the cheque in her hand, looking at her sister in a 
vacillating manner. ''I suppose I ought to give it 
you, Lavinia," she said. " Must I do so ? " 

^'What do you think about it yourself?" coldly 
rejoined Lavinia. 

"He was so very angry with me the last time," 
sighed Nancy, still withholding the cheque. '' He said 
I ought to keep possession of my own, and he ordered 
me to do so in future." 

"That he may have the pleasure of spending it," 
said Mary Carimon in a sharp tone, though she laughed 
at the same time. " Lavinia has to pay for the bread- 
and-cheese that you and he eat, Nancy ; how can she 
do that unless she receives your money ? " 

''Yes, I know ; it is very difficult," said poor Nancy* 



96 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

" Take the cheque, Lavinia ; I shall tell him that you 
and Mary Carimon both said I must give it up." 

''Oh, tell him I said so, and welcome," spoke 
Madame Carimon. '' I will tell him so myself, if you 
like." 

As Colonel Selby returned to the room — he had 
been seeing to his luggage — the coffee was brought in, 
and close upon it came Monsieur Carimon. 

The boat for London was leaving early that night 
— eight o'clock ; they all went down to it to see 
William Selby off. It was a calm night, warm for the 
time of year, the moon beautifully bright. After the 
boat's departure, Lavinia and Ann went home, and 
found Captain Fennel there. He had just got in, ho 
said, and wanted some supper. 

Whilst he was taking it, his wife told him of Mr. 
Lockett's having sat by them at the table d'hote, and 
that he and Colonel Selby were acquainted with one 
another. Captain Fennel drew a grim face at the 
information, and asked whether the lawyer had also 
'' cleared out " for London. 

'^ I don't think so ; I did not see him go on board," 
said Nancy. '' Lavinia knows ; she was talking with 
Mr. Lockett all dinner-time." 

Captain Fennel turned his impassive face to Lavinia, 
as if demanding an answer to his question. 

^' Mr. Lockett intends to remain here until Sunday, 
I fancy ; he said he had to be in London on Monday 
morning. He has some friend with him here. I 
inquired whether they had found the Mr. Dangerfield 
he spoke of last autumn," added Lavinia slowly and 
distinctly. " ' Not yet,' he answered, ' but he is still 
beino' looked for.' " 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 97 

Whether Lavinia said this with a little spice of 
malice, or whether she really meant to warn him, she 
best knew. Captain Fennel finished his supper in 
silence. 

" I presume the colonel did not hand you over your 
quarter 8 money ? " he next said to his wife in a mock- 
ing sort of way. " It is not due for a week yet ; he is 
not one to pay beforehand." 

Upon which Nancy began to tremble and looked 
imploringly at her sister, who was putting the plates 
together upon the tray. After Flore went home they 
had to wait upon themselves. 

" Colonel Selby did hand us the money," said 
Lavinia. '' I hold both cheques for it." 

Well, there ensued a mild disturbance ; what school- 
boys might call a genteel row. Mr. Edwin Fennel 
insisted upon his wife's cheque being given to him. 
Lavinia decisively refused. She went into a bit of a 
temper, and told him some home truths. He said he 
had a right to hold his wife's money, and should 
appeal to the law on the morrow to enforce it. He 
might do that, Lavinia retorted ; no French law would 
make her give it up. Nancy began to cry. 

Probably he knew his threats were futile. Instead 
of appealing to the law on the morrow, he went off by 
an early train, carrying Nancy with him. Lavinia's 
private opinion was that he thought it safer to take 
her, though it did increase the expense, than to leave 
her ; she might get talking with Mr. Lockett. Ann's 
eyes were red, as if she had spent the night in 
crying. 

" Has he beaten you ? " Lavinia inquired, snatching 
the opportunity of a private moment. 

Johnny Ludlow.— V. 7 



98 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' Oh, Lavinia, don't, don't ! I shall never dare to let 
you have the cheque again," she wailed. 

" Where is it that you are going ? " 

" He has not told me," Nancy whispered back again. 
'' To Calais, I think, or else up to Lille. We are to be 
away all the week." 

"Until Mr. Lockett and his friend are gone," 
thought Lavinia. "Nancy, how can he find money 
for it ? " 

"He has some napoleons in his pocket — borrowed 
yesterday, I think, from old Griffin." 

Lavinia understood. Old Griffin, as Nancy styled 
him, had been careless of his money since his very 
slight attack of paralysis; he would freely lend to 
any one who asked him. She had not the slightest 
doubt that Captain Fennel had borrowed of him — • 
and not for the first time. 

It was on Wednesday morning that they went 
away, and for the rest of the week Lavinia was at 
peace. She changed the cheques at the bank as 
before, and paid the outstanding debts. But it left 
her so little to go on with, that she really knew not 
how she should get through the months until mid- 
summer. 

On Friday two of the Miss Bosanquets called. 
Hearing she was alone, they came to ask her to dine 
with them in the evening. Lavinia did so. But upon 
returning home at night, the old horror of going into 
the house came on again. Lavinia was in despair ; 
she had hoped it had passed away for good. 

On Saturday morning at market she met Madame 
Carimon, who invited her for the following day, 
Sunday. Lavinia hesitated. Glad enough indeed she 



FEATHEBSTON'S STORY. 99 

was at the prospect of being taken out of her solitary 
home for a happy day at Mary Carimon's ; but she 
shrank from again risking the dreadful feeling which 
would be sure to attack her when going into the 
house at night. 

'* You must come, Lavinia/' cheerily urged Madame 
Carimon. ''I have invited the English teacher at 
Madame Deauville's school ; she has no friends here, 
poor thing.'^ 

'' Well, I will come, Mary ; thank you,'' said Lavinia 
slowly. 

'' To be sure you will. Why do you hesitate at all ? '* 

Lavinia could not say why in the midst of the 
jostling market-place; perhaps would not had they 
been alone, ''For one thing, they may be coming 
home before to-morrow," observed Lavinia, alluding 
to Mr. and Mrs. Fennel. 

" Let them come. You are not obliged to stay at 
home with them,'' laughed Mary. 

From the Diary of Miss Preen. 

Monday morning. — Well, it is over. The horror of 
last night is over, and I have not died of it. That 
will be considered a strong expression, should any eye 
save my own see this diary : but I truly believe the 
horror would kill me if I were subjected many more 
times to it. 

I went to Mary Carimon's after our service was 

over in the morning, and we had a pleasant day there. 

I The more I see of Monsieur Jules the more I esteem 

and respect him. He is so genuine, so good at hearty 

so simple in manner Miss Perry is very agreeable j 



100 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

not so young as I Lad thought — thirty last birthday, 
she says. Her English is good and refined, and that 
is not always the case with the English teachers who 
come over to France — the French ladies who engage 
them cannot judge of our accent. 

Miss Perry and I left together a little before ten. 
She wished me good-night in the Rue Tessin, Madame 
Deauville's house lying one way, mine another. The 
horror began to come over me as I crossed the Place 
Ronde, which had never happened before. Stay; not 
the horror itself, but the dread of it. An impulse 
actually crossed me to ring at Madame Sauvage's, and 
ask Mariette to accompany me up the entry, and 
stand at my open door whilst I went in to light the 
candle. But I could see no light in the house, not 
even in madame's salon, and supposed she and Mariette 
might be gone to bed. They are early people on 
Sundays, and the two young men have their latch- 
keys. 

I will try to overcome it this time, I bravely said 
to myself, and not allow the fear to keep me halting 
outside the door as it has done before. So I took out 
my latch-key, put it straight into the door^ opened it, 
went in, and closed it again. Before I had well 
reached the top of the passage and felt for the match- 
box on the slab, I was in a paroxysm of horror. 
Something, like an icy wind coming up the passage, 
seemed to flutter the candle as I lighted it. Can I 
have left the door open ? I thought, and turned to 
look. There stood Edwin Fennel. He stood just 
inside the door, v^hich appeared to be shut, and he 
was looking straight at me with a threatening, 
malignant expression on his pale face. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 101 

^' Oh ! have you come home to-night V I exclaimed 
aloud. For I really thought it was so. 

The candle continued to flicker quickly as if it 
meant to go out, causing me to glance at it. When I 
looked up again Mr. Fennel was gone. It ivas not 
himself tvho had been there ; it ivas only an illibsion. 

Exactly as he had seemed to appear to me the night 
before he and Nancy returned from London in Decem- 
ber, so he had appeared again, his back to the door, 
and the evil menace on his countenance. Did the 
appearance come to me as a warning? or was the 
thing nothing but a delusion of my own optic nerves ? 

I dragged my shaking limbs upstairs, on the verge 
of screaming at each step with the fear of what might 
be behind me, and undressed and went to bed. For 
nearly the whole night I could not sleep, and when I 
did get to sleep in the morning I was tormented by a 
distressing dream. All, all as it had been that other 
night from three to four months ago. 

A confused dream, no method in it. Several people 
were about — Nancy for one; I saw her fair curls. 
We all seemed to be in grievous discomfort and dis- 
tress ; whilst I, in worse fear than this world can 
know, was ever striving to hide myself from Edwin 
Fennel, to escape some dreadful fate which he held in 
store for me. And I knew I should not escape it. 



102 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 



Like many another active housewife, Madame 
Carimon was always busy on Monday mornings. On 
the one about to be referred to, she had finished her 
household duties by eleven o'clock, and then sat down 
in her little salle-a-manger, which she also made her 
workroom, to mend some of Monsieur Carimon's 
cotton socks. By her side, on the small work-table, 
lay a silver brooch which Miss Perry had inadvertently 
left behind her the previous evening. Mary Carimon 
was considering at what hour she could most con- 
veniently go out to leave it at Madame Deauville's 
when she heard Pauline answer a ring at the door- 
bell, and Miss Preen came in. i 
' "Oh, Lavinia, I am glad to see you. You are an 
early visitor. Are you not well ? " continued Madame 
Carimon, noticing the pale, sad face. " Is anything 
the matter ? " 

" I am in great trouble, Mary ; I cannot rest ; and 
I have come to talk to you about it," said Lavinia, 
taking the sable boa from her neck and untying her 
bonnet-strings. '' If things were to continue as they 
are now, I should die of it." 

Drawing a chair near to Mary Carimon, Lavinia 
entered upon her narrative. She spoke first of general 
matters. The home discomfort, the trouble with 
Captain Fennel regarding Nancy's money, and the 
difficulty she had to keep up the indispensable pay- 
ments to the tradespeople, expressing her firm belief 
that in future he would inevitably seize upon Nancy's 
portion when it came and confiscate it. Next, she 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 103 

went on to tell the story of the past night — Sunday : 
how the old terrible horror had come upon her of 
entering the house, of a fancied appearance of Edwin 
Fennel in the passage, and of the dream that followed. 
All this latter part was but a repetition of what she 
had told Madame Carimon three or four months ago. 
Hearing it for the second time, it impressed Mary Cari- 
mon's imagination. But she did not speak at once. 

'' I never in my life saw anything plainer or that 
looked more life-like than Captain Fennel, as he stood 
and gazed at me from the end of the passage with 
the evil look on his countenance," resumed Lavinia. 
" And I hardly know why I tell you about it again, 
Mary, except that I have no one else to speak to. 
You rather laughed at me the first time, if you 
remember ; perhaps you will laugh again now." 

'' No, no," dissented Mary Carimon. "' I did not 
put faith in it before, believing you were deceived by 
the uncertain light in the passage, and were, perhaps, 
thinking of him, and that the dream afterwards was 
merely the result of your fright ; nothing else. But 
now that you have had a second experience of it, I 
don t doubt that you do see this spectre, and that the 
dream follows as a sequence to it. And I think," she 
added, slowly and emphatically, '' that it has come to 
warn you of some threatened harm." 

"I seem to see that it has," murmured Lavinia. 
''Why else should it come at all? I wish I could 
picture it to you half vividly enough : the reality of 
it and the horror. Mary, I am growing seriously 
afraid." 

'' Were I you, I should get away from the house," 
said Madame Carimon, " Leave them to themselves." 



104 JOHNNY LUDLOW, 

'' Ifc is what I mean to do, Mary. I cannot remain 
in it, apart from this undefined fear — which of course 
"iuay be only superstitious fancy," hastily acknow- 
ledged Lavinia. '' If things continue in the present 
state — and there is no prospect of their changing " 

" I should leave at once — as soon as they arrive 
home," rather sharply interrupted Mary Carimon, 
who seemed to like the aspect of what she had heard 
less and less. 

" As soon as I can make arrangements. They come 
home to-night; I received a letter from Nancy this 
morning. They have been only at Pontipette all the 
time." 

^^ Only at Pontipette!" 

'^ Nancy says so. It did as well as any other place. 
Captain Fennel's motive was to hide away from the 
lawyers we met at the table d'hote." 

''Have they left Sainteville, I wonder, those 
lawyers ? " 

" Yes," said Lavinia. '' On Friday I met Mr. 
Lockett when I was going to the Rue Lamartine, and 
he told me he was leaving for Calais with his friend 
on Saturday morning. It is rather remarkable," she 
added, after a pause, " that the first time I saw that 
appearance in the passage and dreamed the dream, 
should have been the eve of Mr. Fennel's return here, 
and that it is the same again now." 

" You must leave the house, Lavinia," reiterated 
Madame Carimon. 

" Let me see," considered Lavinia. '' April comes in 
this week. Next week will be Passion Week, pre- 
ceding Easter. I will stay with them over Easter, 
and then leave/' 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 105 

Monsieur Jules Carimon's sock, in process of renova- 
tion, had been allowed to fall upon the mender s lap. 
She slowly took it up again, speaking thoughtfully. 

^' I should leave at once ; before Easter. But you 
will see how he behaves, Lavinia. If not well ; if he 
gives you any cause of annoyance, come away there 
and then. We will take you in, mind, if you have 
not found a place to go to." ^ 

Lavinia thanked her, and rearranged her bonnet 
preparatory to returning home. She went out with a 
heavy heart. Only one poor twelvemonth to have 
brought about all this change ! 

At the door of the Petite Maison Rouge, when she 
reached it, stood Flore, parleying with a slim youth, 
who held an open paper in his outstretched hand. 
Flore was refusing to touch the paper, which was 
both printed and written on, and looked official. 

*' I tell him that Monsieur le Capitaine is not at 
home; he can bring it when he is," explained Flore 
to her mistress in English. 

Lavinia turned to the young man. ''Captain 
Fennel has been away from Sainteville for a few days ; 
he probably will be here to-morow," she said. " Do 
you wish to leave this paper for him ? " 

" Yes," said the messenger, evidently understanding 
English but speaking in French, as he contrived to 
slip the paper into Miss Preen's unconscious hand. 
'• You will have the politeness to give it to him, 
madame." 

And, with that, he went off down the entry, 
whistling. 

" Do you know what the paper is, Flore ? " asked 
Lavinia. 



10& JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

''I think so," said Flore. '^IVe seen tliese papers 
before to-day. It's just a sort of order from the law 
court on Captain Fennel, to pay up some debt that he 
owes ; and, if he does not pay, the court will issue a 
proces against him. That's what it is, madame." 

Lavinia carried the paper into the salon, and sat 
studying it. As far as she could make it out, Mr. 
Edwin Fennel was called upon to pay to some creditor 
the sum of one hundred and eighty-three francs, with- 
out delay. 

^' Over seven pounds ! And if he does not pay, the 
law expenses, to enforce it, will increase the debt 
perhaps by one-half," sighed Lavinia. ''There may 
be, and no doubt are, other things at the back of 
this. Will he turn us out of house and home ? " 

Propping the paper against the wall over the 
mantelpiece, she left it there, that it might meet the 
captain's eye on his return. 

Not until quite late that evening did Madame 
Carimon get her husband to herself, for he brought 
in one of the young under-masters at the college to 
dine with them. But as soon as they were sitting 
cosily alone, he smoking his pipe before bed-time, she 
told him all she had heard from Lavinia Preen. 

'^I don't like it, Jules; I don't indeed," she said. 
" It has made a strangely disagreeable impression on 
me. What is your opinion ? " 

Placid Monsieur Jules did not seem to have much 
opinion one way or the other. Upon the superstitious 
portion of the tale he, being a practical Frenchman, 
totally declined to have any at all. He was very 
sorry for the uncomfortable position Miss Preen found 
herself in, and he certainly was not surprised she 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. i07 

should wish to quit the Petite Maison Rouge if affairs 
could not be made more agreeable there. As to the 
Capitaine Fennel, he felt free to confess there was 
something about him which he did not like : and he 
was sure no man of honour ought to have run away 
clandestinely, as he did, with Miss Nancy. 

" You see, Jules, what the man aims at is to get 
hold of Nancy's income and apply it to his own uses— 
and for Lavinia to keep them upon hers.'' 

" I see," said Jules. 

''And Lavinia coMUot do it; she has not half 
enough. It troubles me very much," flashed Madame 
Carimon. " She says she shall stay wdth them until 
Easter is over. I should not; I should leave them to 
it to-morrow." 

*' Yes, my dear, that's all very well," nodded Mon- 
sieur Jules ; " but we cannot always do precisely 
what we would. Miss Preen is responsible for the 
rent of that house, and if Fennel and his wife do not 
pay it, she would have to. She must have a thorough 
understanding upon that point before she leaves it." 

By the nine-o'clock train that night they came 
home, Lavinia, pleading a bad headache and feeling 
altogether out of sorts, got Flore to remain for once, 
and went herself to bed. She dreaded the very sight 
of Captain Fennel. 

In the morning she saw that the paper had dis- 
appeared from the mantelpiece. He was quite jaunty 
at breakfast, talking to her and Nancy about Ponti- 
pette; and things passed pleasantly. About eleven 
o'clock he began brushing his hat to go out. 

" I'm going to have a look at Griffin, and see how 
he's getting on," he remarked, '^ Perhaps the old man • 



108 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

would enjoy a drive this fine day; if so, you may not 
see me back till dinner-time." 

But just as Captain Fennel turned out of the Place 
Ronde to the Rue Tessin, he came upon Charles 
Palliser, strolling along. 

" Fine day, Mr. Charles," he remarked graciously. 

'' Capital," assented Charles, ^' and I'm glad of it ; 
the old gentleman will have a good passage. I've 
just seen him off by the eleven train." 

'' Seems to me you spend your time in seeing people 
off by trains. Which old gentleman is it now ? — -him 
from below ? " 

Charley laughed. " It's Griffin this time," said he. 
'^ Being feeble, I thought I. might be of use in starting 
him, and went up." 

" Griffin 1 " exclaimed Captain Fennel '' Why, 
where's he gone to ? " 

'' To Calais. En route for Dover and-—— " 

" What's he gone for ? When's he coming back ? " 
interrupted the captain, speaking like a man in great 
amazement. 

''He is not coming back at all; he has gone for 
good," said Charley. ''His daughter came to fetch 
him." 

" Why on earth should she do that ? " 

" It seems that her husband, a clergyman at Ken- 
sington, fell across Major Smith last week in London, 
and put some pretty close questions to him about the 
old man, for they had been made uneasy by his letters 
of late. The major " 

''What business had the major in London?" ques- 
tioned Captain Fennel impatiently. 

"You can ask him," said Charles equably. "I 



FEATHERSTON^S STORY. 109 

didn't. He is back again. Well, Major Smith, being 
questioned, made no bones about it at all; said Griffin 
and Griffin's money both wanted looking after. Upon 
that, the daughter came straight off, arriving here on 
Sunday morning; she settled things yesterday, and 
has carried her father away to-day. He was as 
pleased as Punch, poor childish old fellow, at the 
prospect of a voyage in the boat." 

Whether this information put a check upon any 
little plan Captain Fennel may have been entertaining, 
Charles Palliser could not positively know; but he 
thought he had never seen so evil an eye as the one 
glaring upon him. Only for a moment ; just a flash ; 
and then the face was smoothed again. Charley had 
his ideas — and all his wits about him ; and old Griffin 
had babbled publicly. 

Captain Fennel strolled by his side towards the 
port, talking of Pontipette and other matters of in- 
difference. When in sight of the harbour, he halted. 

" I must wish you good-day now, Palliser ; I have 
letters to write," said he; and walked briskly back 
again. 

Lavinia and Nancy were sitting together in the 
salon when he reached home. Nancy was looking 
scared. 

" Edwin," she said, leaving her chair to meet him— 
" Edwin, what do you think Lavinia has been saying ? 
That she is going to leave us." 

" Oh, indeed," he carelessly answered. 

" But it is true, Edwin ; she means it." 

" Yes, I mean it," interposed Lavinia very quietly* 
" You and Nancy will be better without me ; perhaps 
happier." 



no JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

He looked at her for a full minute in silence, then 
laughed a little. "Like Darby and Joan/' he re- 
marked, as he put his writing-case on the table and 
sat down to it. 

Mrs. Fennel returned to her chair by Lavinia, who 
was sitting close to the window mending a lace collar 
which had been torn in the ironing. As usual Nancy 
was doing nothing. 

" You couldrit leave me, Lavinia, you know," she 
said in coaxing tones. 

*' I know that I never thought to do so, Ann, but 
circumstances alter cases," answered the elder sister. 
Both of them had dropped their voices to a low key, 
not to disturb the letter-writer. But he could hear 
if he chose to listen. ''I began putting my things 
together yesterday, and shall finish doing it at leisure. 
I Avill stay over Easter with you ; but go then I shall." 

^'You must be cruel to think of such a thing, 
Lavinia." 

'' Not cruel," corrected Lavinia. " I am sorry, Ann, 
but the step is forced upon me. The anxieties in 
regard to money matters are wearing me out ; they 
would wear me out altogether if I did not end them. 
And there are other things which urge upon me the 
expediency of departure from this house." 

" What things ? " 

'^ I cannot speak of them. Never mind what they 
are, Ann. They concern myself ; not you." 

Ann Fennel sat twirling one of her fair silken 
ringlets between her thumb and finger; a habit of 
hers when thinking. 

" Where shall you live, Lavinia, if you do leave ? 
Take another apartment at Sainteville ? " 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. Ill 

'' I think not. It is a puzzling question. Possibly 
I may go back to Buttermead, and get some family 
to take me in as a boarder/' dreamily answered 
Lavinia. " Seventy pounds a-year will not keep me 
luxuriously." 

Captain Fennel lifted his face, " If it will not keep 
one, how is it to keep two ? " he demanded, in rather 
defiant tones. 

" I don't know anything about that," said Lavinia 
civilly. '' I have not two to keep ; only one." 

Nancy chanced to catch a glimpse of his face just 
then, and its look frightened her. Lavinia had her 
back to him, and did not see it. Nancy began to cry 
quietly. 

'' Oh, Lavinia, you will think better of this ; you 
will not leave us ! " she implored. " We could not do 
at all without you and your half of the money," 

Lavinia had finished her collar, and rose to take it 
upstairs. '' Don t be distressed, Nancy," she paused to 
say; *4t is a thing that musi be. I am very sorry; 
but it is not my fault. As you " 

'' You can stay in the house if you choose ! " flashed 
Nancy, growing feebly angry. 

" No, I cannot. I cannot,'' repeated Lavinia. " I 
begin to foresee that I might— might die of it." 



Sainteville felt surprised and sorry to hear that Miss 
Preen was going to leave it to its own devices, for the 
town had grown to like her. Livinia did not herself 
talk about going, but the news somehow got wind. 



112 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

People wondered why she went. Matters, as connected 
with the financial department, of the Petite Maison 
Rouge; were known but imperfectly — to most people 
not known at all ; so that reason was not thought o£ 
It was quite understood that Ann Preens stolen 
marriage, capped by the bringing home of her husband 
to the Petite Maison Rouge, had been a sharp blow to 
Miss Preen : perhaps, said Sainteville now, she had 
tried living with them and found it did not answer. 
Or perhaps she was only going away for a change, and 
would return after a while. 

Passion week passed, and Easter week came in, and 
Lavinia made her arrangements for the succeeding one. 
On the Tuesday in that next week, all being well, she 
would quit Sainteville. Her preparations were made ; 
her larger box was already packed and corded. Nancy, 
of shallow temperament and elastic spirits, seemed 
quite to have recovered from the sting of the proposed 
parting ; she helped Lavinia to put up her laces and 
other little fine things, prattling all the time. Captain 
Fennel maintained his suavity. Beyond the words he 
had spoken — as to how she expected the income to 
keep two if it would not keep one — he had said 
nothing. It might be that he hardly yet believed 
Lavinia would positively go. 

But she was going. At first only to Boulogne-sur- 
Mer. Monsieur Jules Carimon had a cousin, Madame 
Degravier, who kept a superior boarding-house there, 
much patronized by the English ; he had written to 
her to introduce Miss Preen, and to intimate that it 
would oblige him if the terms were made tres facile. 
Madame had written back to Lavinia most satisfac- 
torily, and, so far^ that was arranged. 



^ FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 113 

Once at Boulogne in peace and quietness, Lavinia 
would have leisure to decide upon her future plans. 
She hoped to pay a visit to Buttermead in the 
summer-time, for she had begun to yearn for a sight 
of the old place and its people. After that — well, she 
should see. If things went on pleasantly at Sainte- 
ville — that is, if Captain Fennel and Nancy were still 
in the Petite Maison Rouge, and he was enabled to 
find means to continue in it — then, perhaps, she might 
return to the town. Not to make one of the household 
— never again that ; but she might find a little pied-a- 
terre in some other home. 

Meanwhile, Lavinia heard no more of the proces, 
and she wondered how the captain was meeting it. 
During the Easter week she made her farewell calls. 
That week she was not very much at home ; one or 
other of her old acquaintances wanted her. Major 
and Mrs. Smith had her to spend a day with them ; 
the Miss Bosanquets invited her also ; and so on. 

One call, involving also private business, she made 
upon old Madame Sauvage, Mary Carimon accompany- 
ing her. Monsieur Gustave was called up to the salon 
to assist at the conference. Lavinia partly explained 
her position to them in strict confidence, and the 
motive, as touching pecuniary affairs, which Avas 
taking her away : she said nothing of that other and 
greater motive, her superstitious fear. 

"I have come to speak of the rent," she said to 
Monsieur Gustave, and Mary Carimon repeated the 
words in French to old Madame Sauvage. ^'You 
must in future look to Captain Fennel for it; you 
must make him pay it if possible. At the same time, 
I admit my own responsibility," added Lavinia, '' and 

•Johnny Ludlow. — Y. 8 



114 JOHNNY LUDLO\Y. 

if it be found totally impracticable to get it from 
Captain Fennel or my sister, I shall pay it to you. 
This must, of course, be kept strictly between our- 
selves, Monsieur Gustave ; you and madame under- 
stand that. If Captain Fennel gained any intimation 
of it, he would take care not to pay it." 

Monsieur Gustave and madame his mother assured 
her that they fully understood, and that she might 
rely upon their honour. They were grieved to lose 
so excellent a tenant and neighbour as Miss Preen, 
and wished circumstances had been more kindly. 
One thing she might rest assured of — that they should 
feel at least as mortified at having to apply to her for 
the rent as she herself would be, and they would not 
leave a stone unturned to extract it from the hands of 
Captain Fennel. 

" It has altogether been a most bitter trial to me," 
sighed Lavinia, as she stood up to say farewell to 
madame. 

The old lady understood, and the tears came into 
her compassionate eyes as she held Lavinia's hands 
between her own. " Ay, for certain," she replied in 
French. '' She and her sons had said so privately to 
one another ever since the abrupt coming home of the 
strange captain to the petite maison a cote." 

On Sunday, Lavinia, accompanied by Nancy and 
Captain Fennel, attended morning service for the last 
time. She spoke to several acquaintances coming out, 
wishing them good-bye, and was hastening to over- 
take her sister, when she heard rapid steps behind 
her, and a voice speaking. Turning, she saw Charley 
Palliser. 

''Miss Preen," cried he, ''my aunt wants you to 



FEATHEESTON'S STOEY. 115 

eome home and dine with ns. See, she is waiting for 
you. You could not come any one day last week, 
you know." 

'*I was not able to come to you last week, Mr. 
Charles ; I had so much to do, and so many engage- 
ments," said Lavinia, as she walked back to Mrs. 
Hardy, who stood smiling. 

" But you will come to-day, dear Miss Preen," said 
old Mrs. Hardy, who had caught the words. ^' We 
have a lovely fricandeau of veal, and " 

"Why, that is just our own dinner," interrupted 
Lavinia gaily. " I should like to come to you, Mrs. 
Hardy, but I cannot. It is my last Sunday at home, 
and I could not well go out and leave them." 

They saw the force of the objection. Mrs. Hardy 
asked whether she should be at church in the evening, 
Lavinia replied that she intended to be, and they 
agreed to bid each other farewell then. 

''You don't know what you've lost, Miss Preen," 
said Charley comically. " There's a huge cream tart 
— lovely." 

Captain Fennel was quite lively at the dinner-table. 
He related a rather laughable story which had been 
told him by Major Smith, with whom he had walked for 
ten minutes after church, and was otherwise gracious. 

After dinner, while Flore was taking away the 
things, he left the room, and came back with three 
glasses of liqueur, on a small waiter, handing one to 
Lavinia, another to his wife, and keeping the third 
himself. It was the yellow chartreuse ; Captain 
Fennel kept a bottle of it and of one or two other 
choice liqueurs in the little cupboard at the end of the 
passage, and treated them to a glass sometimes. 



IIG JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

''How delightful!" cried Nancy, who liked char- 
treuse and anything else that was good. 

They sat and sipped it, talking pleasantly together. 
The captain soon finished his, and said he should take 
a stroll on the pier. It was a bright day with a brisk 
wind, which seemed to be getting higher. 

''The London boat ought to be in about four 
o'clock," he remarked. " It's catching it sweetly, I 
know ; passengers will look like ghosts. Au revoir ; 
don't get quarrelling." And thus, nodding to the two 
ladies, he went out gaily. 

Not much danger of their quarrelling. They turned 
their chairs to the fire, and plunged into conversation, 
which chanced to turn upon Buttermead. In calling 
up one reminiscence of the old place after another, 
now Lavinia, now Nancy, the time passed on. Lavinia 
wore her silver-grey silk dress that day, with some 
yellowish-looking lace falling at the throat and wrists. 

Flore, came in to bring the tea-tray; she always 
put it on the table in readiness on a Sunday after- 
noon. The water, she said, would be on the boil in 
the kitchen by the time they wanted it. And then 
she went away as usual for the rest of the day. 

Not long afterwards, Lavinia, who was speaking, 
suddenly stopped in the middle of a sentence. She 
started up in her chair, fell back again, and clasped 
her hands below her chest with a great cry. 

" Oh, Nancy !— Nancy ! " 

Nancy dashed across the hearthrug. " What is 
it ? " she exclaimed. " What is it, Lavinia ? " 

Lavinia apparently could not say what it was. 
She seemed to be in the greatest agony ; her face had 
turned livid. Nancy was next door to an imbecile 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 117 

in any emergency, and fairly wrung her Lands in her 
distress. 

'' Oh, what can be the matter with me ? " gasped 
Lavinia. " Nancy, I think I am dying." 

Tlie next moment she had glided from the chair 
to the floor, and lay there shrieking and writhing. 
Bursting away, Nancy ran round to the next house, 
all closed to-day, rang wildly at the private door, and 
when it was opened by Mariette, rushed upstairs to 
madame's salon. 

Madame Veuve Sauvage, comprehending that some- 
thing was amiss, without understanding Nancy's frantic 
words, put a shawl on her shoulders to hasten to the 
other house, ordering Mariette to follow her. Her 
sons were out. 

There lay Lavinia, in the greatest agony. Madame 
Sauvage sent Mariette off for Monsieur Dupuis, and 
told her to fly. '' Better bring Monsieur Henri Dupuis, 
Mariette," she called after her : " he will get quicker 
over the ground than his old father." 

But Monsieur Henri Dupuis, as it turned out, was 
absent. He had left that morning for Calais with his 
wife, to spend two days with her friends who lived 
there, purposing to be back early on Tuesday morn- 
ing. Old Monsieur Dupuis came very quickly. He 
thought Mademoiselle Preen must have inward in- 
flammation, he said to Madame Sauvage, and inquired 
what she had eaten for dinner. Nancy told him as 
well as she could between her sobs and her broken 
speech. 

A fricandeau of veal, potatoes, a cauliflower au 
gratin, and a frangipane tart from the pastrycook's. 
No fruit or any other dessert. They took a little 



118 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Bordeaux wine with dinner, and a liqueur glass of 
chartreuse afterwards. 

All very wholesome, pronounced Monsieur Dupuis, 
with satisfaction; not at all likely to disagree with 
mademoiselle. Possibly she had caught a chill. 

Mariette had run for Flore, who came in great 
consternation. Between them all they got Lavinia 
upstairs, undressed her and laid her in bed, applying 
hot flannels to the pain — and Monsieur Dupuis ad- 
ministered in a wine-glass of water every quarter-of- 
an-hour some drops from a glass phial which he had 
brought in his pocket. 

It was close upon half-past five when Captain 
Fennel came in. He expressed much surprise and 
concern, saying, like the doctor, that she must have 
eaten something which had disagreed with her. The 
doctor avowed that he could not otherwise account for 
the seizure ; he did not altogether think it was pro- 
duced by a chill ; and he spoke again of the dinner. 
Captain Fennel observed that as to the dinner they 
had all three partaken of it, one the same as another ; 
he did not see why it should affect his sister-in-law 
and not himself or his wife. This reasoning was 
evident, admitted Monsieur Dupuis; but Miss Preen 
had touched nothing since her breakfast, except at 
dinner. In point of fact, he felt very much at a loss, 
he did not scruple to add; but the more acute 
symptoms were showing a slight improvement, he 
w^as thankful to perceive, and he trusted to bring her 
round. 

As he did. In a few hours the pain had so far 
abated, or yielded to remedies, that poor Lavinia, 
worn out, dropped into a comfortable sleep. Monsieur 



FEATHEKSTON^S STOBY. 119 

Bupuis was round again early in the morning, and 
found her recovered, though still feeling tired and 
very weak. He advised her to lie in bed until the 
afternoon ; not to get up then unless she felt inclined ; 
and he charged her to take chiefly milk food all the 
day — no solids whatever. 

Lavinia slept again all the morning, and awoke 
very much refreshed. In the afternoon she felt quite 
equal to getting up, and did so, dressing herself in the 
grey silk she had worn the previous day, because it 
was nearest at hand. She then penned a line to 
Madame Degravier, saying she was unable to travel 
to Boulogne on the morrow, as had been fixed, but 
hoped to be there on Wednesday, or, at the latest, 
Thursday. 

Captain Fennel, who generally took possession of 
the easiest chair in the salon, and the warmest place, 
resigned it to Lavinia the instant she appeared down- 
stairs. He shook her by the hand, said how glad he 
was that she had recovered from her indisposition, 
and installed her in the chair with a cushion at her 
back and a rug over her knees. AH vshe had to dread 
now, he thought, was cold; she must guard against 
that. Lavinia replied that she could not in the least 
imagine what had been the matter with her ; she had 
never had a similar attack before, and had never been 
in such dreadful pain. 

Presently Mary Carimon came in, having heard of 
the affair from Mariette, whom she had met in the 
fish-market during the morning. All danger was 
over, Mariette said, and mademoiselle was then sleep- 
ing quietly : so Madame Carimon, not to disturb her, 
put off calling until the afternoon. Captain Fennel 



120 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

sat talking with her a few minutes, and then went 
out. For some cause or other he never seemed to be 
quite at ease in the presence of Madame Carimon. 

'' I know what it must have been/' cried Mary 
Carimon, coming to one of her rapid conclusions after 
listening to the description of the illness. " Misled by 
the sunny spring days last week, you went and left 
off some of your warm underclothing, Lavinia, and so 
caught cold." 

'' Good gracious ! " exclaimed Nancy, who had curled 
herself up on the sofa like a ball, not having yet 
recovered from her fatigue and fright. " Leave off 
one's warm things the beginning of April ! I never 
heard of such imprudence ! How came you to do it, 
Lavinia ? " 

''I did not do it," said Lavinia quietly. "I have 
not left off* anything. Should I be so silly as to do 
that with a journey before me ? " 

'' Then what caused the attack ? " debated Madame 
Carimon. '^ Something you had eaten ? " 

Lavinia shook her head helplessly. " It could 
hardly have been that, Mary. I took nothing what- 
ever that Nancy and Captain Fennel did not take. 1 
wish I did know — that I might guard, if possible, 
against a similar attack in future. The pain seized 
me all in a moment. I thought I was dying." 

" It sounds odd," said Madame Carimon. '' Monsieur 
Dupuis does not know either, it seems. That's why I 
thought you might have been leaving off* your things, 
and did not like to tell him." 

''I conclude that it must have been one of those 
mysterious attacks of sudden illness to which we are 
all liable, but for which no one can account/' sighed 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 121 

Lavinia. '' I hope I shall never have it again. This 
experience has been enough for a lifetime." 

Mary Carimon warmly echoed the hope as she rose 
to take her departure. She advised Lavinia to go to 
bed early, and promised to come again in the morning. 

While Captain Fennel and Nancy dined, Flore made 
her mistress some tea, and brought in with it some 
thin bread-and-butter. Lavinia felt all the better for 
the refreshment, laughingly remarking that by the 
morning she was sure she should be as hungry as a 
hunter. She sat chatting, and sometimes dozing 
between whiles, until about a quarter to nine o'clock, 
when she said she would go to bed. 

Nancy went to the kitchen to make her a cup of 
arrowroot. Lavinia then wished Captain Fennel 
good-night, and went upstairs. Flore had left as 
usual, after washing up the dinner-things. 

" Lavinia, shall I Oh, she has gone on," broke 

ofi' Nancy, who had come in with the breakfast-cup of 
arrowroot in her hand. '' Edwin, do you think I may 
venture to put a little brandy into this ? " 

Captain Fennel sat reading with his face to the 
fire and the lamp at his elbow. He turned round. 

" Brandy ? " said he. '' I m sure I don't know. If 
that pain meant inflammation, brandy might do harm. 
Ask Lavinia ; she had better decide for herself. No, 
no ; leave the arrowroot on the table here," he hastily 
cried, as Nancy was going out of the room with the 
cup. " Tell Lavinia to come down, and we'll discuss 
the matter with her. Of course a little brandy would 
do her an immense deal of good, if she might take it 
with safety." 

Nancy did as she was told. Leaving the cup and 



122 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

saucer on the table, she went up to her Bister. In a 
minute or two she was back again. 

"Lavinia wont come down again, Edwin; she is 
abeady half-undressed. She thinks she had better be 
on the safe side, and not have the brandy.'' 

" All right/' replied the captain, who was sitting as 
before, intent on his book. Nancy took the cup up- 
stairs. 

She helped her sister into bed, and then gave her 
the arrowroot, inquiring whether she had made it 
well. 

''Quite well, only it was rather sweet," answered 
Lavinia. 

" Sweet ! " echoed Nancy, in reply. *' Why, I hardly 
put any sugar at all into it ; I remembered that you 
don't like it." 

Lavinia finished the cupful. Nancy tucked her up, 
and gave her a good-night kiss. " Pleasant dreams, 
Lavinia dear," she called back, as she was shutting the 
door. 

" Thank you, Nancy ; but I hope I shall sleep 
to-night without dreaming," answered Lavinia. 

As Nancy went downstairs she turned into the 
kitchen for her own arrowroot, which she had left all 
that time in the saucepan. Being fond of it, she had 
made enousjh for herself as well as for Lavinia. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 123 



XII. 

It was between half-past ten and eleven, and Captain 
and Mrs. Fennel were in their bedroom preparing to 
retire to rest. She stood before the glass doing her 
hair, having thrown a thin print cotton cape upon her 
shoulders as usual, to protect her dress ; he had taken 
off his coat. 

" What was that ? " cried she, in startled tones. 

Some sound had penetrated to their room. The 
captain put his coat on a chair and bent his ear. " I 
did not hear anything, Nancy," he answered. 

'' There it is again ! " exclaimed Nancy. " Oh, it is 
Lavinia ! I do believe it is Lavinia ! " 

Flinging the comb from her hand, Nancy dashed 
out at the room-door, which was near the head of the 
stairs ; Lavinia's door being nearly at the end of the 
passage. Unmistakable sounds, now a shriek, now a 
wail, came from Lavinia's chamber. Nancy flew into 
it, her fair hair falling on her shoulders. 

" What is it, Lavinia ? Oh, Edwin, Edwin, come 
here ! '' called Mrs. Fennel, beside herself with terror, 
Lavinia was rolling about the bed, as she had the 
previous day rolled on the salon floor ; her face was 
distorted with pain, her moans and cries were 
agonizing. 

Captain Fennel stayed to put on his coat, came to 
Lavinia's door, and put his head inside it. " Is it the 
pain again ? " he asked. 

"Yes, it is the pain again," gasped Lavinia, in 
answer. " I am dying, I am surely dying ! " 

That put the finishing-touch to timorous Nancy. 



124 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' Edwin, run, run for Monsieur Dupuis ! " she implored. 
" Oh, what shall we do ? What shall we do ? '' 

Captain Fennel descended the stairs. When Nancy 
thought he must have been gone out at least a minute 
or Uyo, he appeared again with a wine-glass of hot 
brandy -and- water, which he had stayed to mix. 

'^Try and get her to take this,'' he said. "It can't 
do harm ; it may do good. And if you could put hot 
flannels to her, Nancy, it might be well ; they eased 
the pain yesteicday. I'll bring Dupuis here as soon as 
I can." 

Lavinia could not take the brandy-and- water, and 
it was left upon tlie grey marble top of the chest of 
drawers. Her paroxysms increased ; Nancy had never 
seen or imagined such pain, for this attack was worse 
than the other, and she almost lost her wits with 
terror. Could she see Lavinia die before her eyes ? — 
no helping hand near to strive to save her ? Just as 
Nancy had done before, she did again now. 

Flying down the stairs and out of the house, across 
the yard and through the dark entry, she seized the 
bell-handle of Madame Yeuve Sauvage's door and 
pulled it frantically. The household had all retired 
for the night. 

Presently a w^indow above opened, and Monsieur 
Gustave — Nancy knew his voice — looked out. 

" Who's there ? " he asked in French. " W^hat's the 
matter ? " 

''Oh, Monsieur Gustave, come in for the love of 
Heaven ! " responded poor Nancy, looking up. '' She 
has another attack, worse than the first ; she's dying, 
and there's no one in the house but me." 

'' Direct] V, madame; I am with you on the instant," 



FEATHEBSTON'S STORY. 125 

he kindly answered. "I but wait to put on my 
effects." 

He was at the Petite Maison Rouge ahnost as soon 
as she ; his brother Emile followed him in, and 
Mariette, whom they had called, came shortly. Miss 
Preen lay in dreadful paroxysms ; it did appear to 
them that she must die. Nancy and Mariette busied 
themselves in the kitchen, heating flannels. j 

The doctor did not seem to come very quickly. 
Captain Fennel at length made his appearance and 
said Monsieur Dupuis would be there in a minute or 
two. 

'' I am content to hear that," remarked Monsieur 
Gustave in reply. '' I was just about to despatch my 
brother for the first doctor he could find." 

"Never had such trouble in ringing up a doctor 
before," returned Captain Fennel. " I suppose the old 
man sleeps too soundly to be easily aroused; many 
elderly people do." 

" I fear she is dying," whispered Monsieur Gustave. 

" No, no, surely not ! " cried Captain Fennel, recoil- 
ing a step at the words. " What can it possibly be ? 
What causes the attacks ? " 

Whilst Monsieur Gustave was shaking his head at 
this difficult question, Monsieur Dupuis arrived. 
Monsieur Emile, anxious to make himself useful, was 
requested by Mariette to go to Flore's domicile and 
ring her up. Flore seemed to have been sleeping with 
her clothes on, for they came back together. 

Monsieur Dupuis could do nothing for his patient. 
He strove to administer drops of medicinal remedies ; 
he caused her to be nearly smothered in scalding-hot 
flannels — all in vain. He despatched Monsieur Emile 



126 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Sauvage to bring in another doctor, Monsieur Podevin, 
who lived near. All in vain. Lavinia died. Just at 
one o'clock in the morning, before the cocks had begun 
to crow, Lavinia Preen died. 

The shock to those in the house was great. It 
seemed to stun them, one and all. The brothers 
Sauvage, leaving a few words of heartfelt sympathy 
with Captain Fennel, withdrew silently to their own 
home. Mariette stayed. The two doctors, shut up 
in the salon, talked with one another, endeavouring to 
account for the death. 

" Inflammation, no doubt," observed Monsieur 
Dupuis ; " but even so, the death has been too 
speedy." 

''More like poison," rejoined the younger man. 
Monsieur Podevin. He was brother to the proprietor 
of the Hotel des Princes, and was much respected by 
his fellow-citizens as a safe and skilful practitioner. 

'' The thought of poison naturally occurred to me 
on Sunday, when I was first called to her," returned 
Monsieur Dupuis, ''but it could not be borne out. 
You see, she had partaken of nothing, either in food 
or drink, but what the other inmates had taken ; 
absolutely nothing. This was assured me by them 
all, herself included." 

" She seems to have taken nothing to-day, either, 
that could in any way harm her," said Monsieur 
Podevin. 

" Nothing. She took a cup of tea at five o'clock, 
which the servant, Flore, prepared and also partook of 
herself — a cup out of the same teapot. Later, when 
the poor lady went to bed, her sister made her a basin 
of arrowroot, and made herself one at the same time." 



FEATHERSTON'S STOEY. 127 

Well, it appears strange." 

"It could not have been a chill. The symp- 
toms " 

" A chill ? — bah ! " interrupted Monsieur Podevin. 
'^ We shall know more after the post-mortem/' he 
added, taking up his hat. '' Of course there must be 
one." 

Wishing his brother practitioner good-night, he left. 
Monsieur Dupuis went looking about for Captain 
Fennel, and found him in the kitchen, standing by 
the hot stove, and drinking a glass of hot brandy-and- 
water. The rest were upstairs. 

"This event has shaken my nerves, doctor," 
apologized the captain, in reference to the glass. " I 
never was so upset. Shall I mix you one ? " 

Monsieur Dupuis shook his head. He never took 
anything so strong. The most calming thing, in his 
opinion, was a glass of eau sucree, with a teaspoonful 
of orange-flower water in it. 

" Sir," he went on, " I have been conversing with 
my esteemed confrere. We cannot, either of us, decide 
what mademoiselle has died of, being unable to see 
any adequate cause for it; and we wish to hold a 
post-mortem examination. I presume you will not 
object to it ? " 

" Certainly not ; I think there should be one," 
briskly spoke Captain Fennel after a moment's pause. 
" For our satisfaction, if for nothing else, doctor." 

" Very well. Will nine o'clock in the morning suit 
you, as to time ? It should be made early," 

" I — expect it will," answered the captain, reflecting. 
" Do you hold it here ? " 

*' Undoubtedly. In her own room.** 



128 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

^'Then wait just one minute, will you, doctor, whilst 
I speak to my wife. Nine o'clock seems a little early, 
but I dare say it will suit." 

Monsieur Dupuis went back into the salon. He 
had waited there a short interval, when Mrs. Fennel 
burst in, wild with excitement. Her hair still hung 
down her back, her eyes were swollen with weeping, 
her face was one of piteous distress. She advanced to 
Monsieur Dupuis, and held up her trembling hands. 

The old doctor understood English fairly well when 
it was quietly spoken ; but he did not in the least 
understand it in a storm. Sobbing, trembling, Mrs. 
Fennel was beseeching him not to hold a post-mortem 
on her poor dead sister, for the love of mercy. 

Surprised and distressed, he placed her on the sofa, 
soothed her into calmness, and then bade her tell him 
quietly what her petition was. She repeated it- 
begging, praying, imploring him not to disturb her 
sister now she was at rest ; but to let her be put into 
her grave in peace. Well, well, said the compassionate 
old man ; if it would pain the relatives so greatly to 
have it done, he and Monsieur Podevin would, of 
course, abandon the idea. It would be a satisfaction 
to them both to be able to decide upon the cause of 
death, but they did not wish to proceed in it against 
the feelings of the family. 

Sainteville woke up in the morning to a shock. 
Half the townspeople still believed that Miss Preen 
was leaving that day, Tuesday, for Boulogne ; and to 
hear that she would not go on that journey, that she 
would never go on any earthly journey again, that 
she was dead, shook them to the centre. 

What had been the matter with her ? — what had 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 129 

killed her so quickly in the midst of life and health ? 
Groups asked this ; one group meeting another. 
"Inflammation/' was the answer — for that report had 
somehow started itself. She caught a chill on the 
Sunday, probably when leaving the church after 
morning service ; it induced speedy and instant 
inflammation, and she had died of it. 

With softened steps and mournful faces, hosts of 
people made their way to the Place Ronde. Only to 
take a glimpse at the outside of the Maison Rouge 
brought satisfaction to excited feelings. Monsieur 
Gustave Sauvage had caused his white shop window- 
blinds to be drawn half-way down, out of respect to 
the dead; all the windows above had the green 
persiennes closed before them. The calamity had so 
greatly affected old Madame Sauvage that she lay 
in bed. 

When her sons returned indoors after the death 
had taken place, their mother called them to her 
room. Nancy's violent ringing had disturbed her, 
and she had lain since then in anxiety, waiting for 
news. 

"Better not tell the mother to-night," whispered 
Emile to his brother outside her door. 

But the mother s ears were quick ; she was sitting 
up in bed, and the door was ajar. " Yes, you will tell 
me, my sons," she said. " I am fearing the worst." 

"Well, mother, it is all over," avowed Gustave. 
" The attack was more violent than the one last night, 
and the poor lady is gone." 

" May the good God have taken her to His rest ! " 
fervently aspirated madame. But she lay down in 
the bed in her distress and covered her face with the 

Johnny Ludlow. — V. 9 



130 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

white-frilled pillow and sobbed a little. Gustave and 
Emile related a few particulars. 

''And what was really the malady? What is it 
that she has died of? " questioned the mother, wiping 
her eyes. 

'' That is not settled ; nobody seems to know/' 
replied Gustave. 

Madame Veuve Sauvage lay still, thinking. '' I — 
hope — that — man — has — not — done — her — any — 
injury ! " she slowly said. 

" I hope not either ; there is no appearance of it," 
said Monsieur Gustave. '' Any way, mother, she had 
two skilful doctors with her, honest men and upright. 
Better not admit such thoughts." 

" True, true," murmured madame, appeased. '' I 
fear the poor dear lady must have taken a chill, 
which struck inwardly. That handsome demoiselle, 
the cousin of Monsieur le Procureur, died of the same 
thing, you may remember. Good-night, my sons; 
you leave me very unhappy." 

About eight o'clock in the morning, Monsieur Jules 
Carimon heard of it. In going through the large 
iron entrance-gates of the college to his day's work, 
he found himself accosted by one of two or three 
young gamins of pupils, who were also entering. It 
was Dion Pamart. The well-informed reader is of 
course aware that the French educational colleges are 
attended by all classes, high and low, indiscriminately^ 

" Monsieur, have you heard ? " said the lad, with 
timid deprecation. " Mademoiselle is dead." 

Monsieur Jules Carimon turned his eyes on the 
speaker. At first he did not recognize him : his own 
work lay with the advanced desks. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 131 

" Ah, c'esfc Paniart, n'est-ce-pas ? " said be. '' What 
did you say, my boy ? Some one is dead ? " 

Dion Pamart repeated his information. The master, 
inwardly shocked, took refuge in disbelief. 

*' I think you must be mistaken, Pamart," said he. 

" Oh no, Tm not, sir. Mademoiselle was taken 
frightfully ill again last night, and they fetched my 
mother. They had two doctors to her and all ; but 
they couldn't do anything for her, and she died. 
Grandmother gave me my breakfast just now; she 
said my mother was crying too much to come home. 
The other lady, the captain's wife, has been in hysterics 
all night." 

" Go on to your desks," commanded Monsieur 
Carimon to the small fry now gathered round him. 

He turned back home himself When he entered 
the salle-a-manger, Pauline was carrying away the last 
of the breakfast-things. Her mistress stood putting a 
little water on a musk plant in the window. 

'' Is it you, Jules ? " she exclaimed. " Have you 
forgotten something ? " 

Monsieur Jules shut the door. " I have not for- 
gotten anything," he answered. " But I have heard of 
a sad calamity, and I have come back to prepare you, 
Marie, before you hear it from others." 

He spoke solemnly; he was looking solemn. His 
wife put down the jug of water on the table. *'A 
calamity ? " she repeated. 

'' Yes. You will grieve to hear it. Your friend, 
Miss Preen, was — was taken ill last night with the 
same sort of attack, but more violent ; and she " 

" Oh, Jules, don't tell me, don't tell me ! " cried Mary 
Carimon, lifting her hands to ward off the words 



132 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

with a too sure prevision of what they were going 
to be. 

'* But, my dear, you must be told sooner or later/' 
remonstrated he ; " you cannot go through even this 
morning without hearing it from one person or 
another. Flore's boy was my informant. In spite of 
all that could be done by those about her, poor lady — 
in spite of the two doctors who were called to her aid 
— she died." 

Madame Carimon was a great deal too much stunned 
for tears. She sank back in a chair with a face of 
stone, feeling that the room was turning upside down 
about her. 

An hour later, when she had somewhat gathered 
her scattered senses together, she set off for the Petite 
Maison Rouge. Her way lay past the house of 
Monsieur Podevin; old Monsieur Dupuis was turn- 
ing out of it as she went by. Madame Carimon 
stopped. 

''Yes," the doctor said, when a few words had 
passed, ''it is a most desolating affair. But, as madame 
knows, when Death has laid his grasp upon a patient, 
medical craft loses its power to resist him." 

"Too true," murmured Mary Carimon. "And what 
is it that vshe has died of ? " 

Monsieur Dupuis shook his head to indicate that he 
did not know. 

" I could have wished for an examination, to ascer- 
tain the true cause of the seizure," continued the 
doctor, " and I come now from expressing my regrets 
to my confrere, Monsieur Podevin. He agrees with 
me in deciding that we cannot press it in opposition 
to the family. Captain Fennel was quite willing it 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 133 

should take place, but his wife, poor distressed woman, 
altogether objects to it." 

Mary Carimon went on to the house of death. She 
saw Lavinia, looking so peaceful in her stillness. A 
happy smile sat on her countenance. On her white 
attire lay some sweet fresh primroses, which Flore had 
placed there. Lavinia loved primroses. She used to 
say that when she looked at them they brought to 
her mind the woods and dales of Buttermead, always 
carpeted with the pale, fair blossoms in the spring of 
the year. Mrs. Fennel lay in a heavy sleep, exhausted 
by her night of distress, Flore informed Madame 
Carimon; and the captain, anxious about her, was 
sitting in her room, to guard against her being 
disturbed. 

On the next day, Wednesday, in obedience to the 
laws of France relating to the dead, Lavinia Preen was 
buried. All the English gentlemen in the town, and 
some Frenchmen, including Monsieur Carimon and the 
sons of Madame Veuve Sauvage, assembled in the 
Place Konde, and fell in behind the coffin when it was 
brought forth. They walked after it to the portion of 
the cemetery consecrated to Protestants, and there 
witnessed the interment. The tears trickled down 
Charley Palliser's face as he took his last look into the 
grave, and he was honest enough not to mind who 
saw them. 



134 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 



XIII 



In their new mourning, at the English Church, the 
Sunday after the interment of Lavinia Preen, appeared 
Captain and Mrs. Fennel. The congregation looked at 
them more than at the parson. Poor Nancy's eyes 
were so blinded with tears that she could not see the 
letters in her Prayer-book. Only one little week 
ago when she had sat there, Lavinia was on the 

bench at her side, alive and well ; and now It 

was with difficulty Nancy kept herself from breaking 
down. 

Two or three acquaintances caught her hand on 
leaving the church, whispering a few words of sym- 
pathy in her ear. Not one but felt truly sorry for her. 
The captain s hat, which had a wide band round it, 
was perpetually raised in acknowledgment of silent 
greetings, as he piloted his wife back to their house, 
the Petite Maison Rouge. 

A very different dinner-table, this which the two 
sat down to, from last Sunday's, in the matter of 
cheerfulness. Nancy was about half-way through the 
wing of the fowl her husband had helped her to, when 
a choking sob caught her throat. She dropped her 
knife and fork. 

'' Oh, Edwin, I cannot ! I cannot eat for my un- 
happy thoughts ! This time last Sunday Lavinia was 

seated at the table with us. Now " Nancy's 

speech collapsed altogether. 

" Come, come," said Captain Fennel. " I hope you 
are not going to be hysterical again, Nancy. It is 
frightfully sad ; I know that ; but this prolonged grief 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 135 

will do no good. Go on with your dinner; it is a 
very nice chicken/' 

Nancy gave a great sob, and spoke impulsively, '' I 
don't believe you regret her one bit, Edwin ! " 

Edwin Fennel in turn laid down his knife and fork 
and stared at his wife. A curious expression sat on 
his face. 

"Not regret her," he repeated with emphasis. 
"Why, Nancy, I regret her every hour of the day. 
But I do not make a parade of my regrets. Why 
should I ? — to what end ? Come, come, my dear ; you 
will be all the better for eating your dinner." 

He went on with his own as he spoke. Nancy took 
up her knife and fork with a hopeless sigh. 

Dinner over, Captain Fennel went to his cupboard 
and brought in some of the chartreuse. Two glasses, 
this time, instead of three. He might regret Lavinia, 
as he said, every hour of the day ; possibly he did so ; 
but it did not seem to affect his appetite, or his relish 
for good things. 

Most events have their dark and their light sides. It 
could hardly escape the mind of Edwin Fennel that by 
the death of Lavinia the whole income became Nancy's. 
To him that must have been a satisfactory consolation. 

In the afternoon he went with Nancy for a walk on 
the pier. She did not want to go ; said she had no 
spirits for it; it was miserable at home; miserable 
out ; miserable everywhere. Captain Fennel took her 
off, as he might have taken a child, telling her she 
should come and see the fishing-boats. After tea they 
went to church — ^an unusual thing for Captain Fennel. 
Lavinia and Nancy formerly went to evening service ; 
he, never. 



136 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

That night something curious occurred. Nancy 
went up to bed leaving the captain to follow, after 
finishing his glass of grog. He generally took one 
the last thing. Nancy had taken off her gown, and 
was standing before the glass about to undo her hair, 
when she heard him leave the parlour. Her bedroom- 
door, almost close to the head of the stairs, was not 
closed, and her ears were on the alert. Since Lavinia 
died, Nancy had felt timid in the house when alone, 
and she was listening for her husband to come up. 
She heard him lock up the spirit bottle in the little 
cupboard below, and begin to ascend the stairs, and 
she opened her door wider, that the light might guide 
him, for the staircase was in darkness. 

Captain Fennel had nearly gained the top, when 
something — he never knew what — induced him to 
look round sharply, as though he fancied some one 
was close behind him. In fact, he did fancy it. In a 
moment, he gave a shout, dashed onwards into the 
bedroom, shut the door with a bang, and bolted it. 
Nancy, in great astonishment, turned to look at him. 
He seemed to have shrunk within himself in a fit of 
trembling, his face was ghastly, and the perspiration 
stood upon his brow. 

" Edwin ! " she exclaimed in a scared whisper, " what 
is the matter ? " 

Captain Fennel did not answer at first. He was 
getting up his breath. 

*' Has Flore not gone ? '' he then said. 

" Flore ! " exclaimed Nancy in surprise. '' Why, 
Edwin, you know Flore goes away on Sundays in the 
middle of the afternoon ! She left before we went on 
the pier. Why do you ask ? " 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 137 

"I — I thought — some person — followed me up- 
stairs/' he replied, in uneasy pauses. 

" Oh, my goodness 1 '' cried timid Nancy. " Perhaps 
a thief has got into the house ! " 

She went to the door, and was about to draw it an 
inch open, intending to peep out gingerly and listen, 
when her husband pulled her back with a motion of 
terror, and put his back against it. This meant, she 
thought, that he knew a thief was there. Perhaps 
two of them 1 

" Is there more than one ? " she whispered. " La- 
vinia's silver — my silver, now — is in the basket on 
the console in the salon." 

He did not answer. He appeared to be listening. 
Nancy listened also. The house seemed still as death. 

" Perhaps I was mistaken," said Captain Fennel, 
beginning to recover himself after a bit. " I dare say 
I was." 

" Well, I think you must have been, Edwin ; I 
can't hear anything. We had better open the door." 

She undid the bolt as she spoke, and he moved 
away from it. Nancy cautiously took a step outside, 
and kept still. Not a sound met her ear. Then she 
brought forth the candle and looked down the stair- 
case. Not a sign of anything or any one met her 
eye. 

" Edwin, there's nothing, there's nobody ; come and 
see. You must have fancied it." 

'' No doubt," answered Captain Fennel. But he did 
not go to see, for all that. 

Nancy went back to the room. "Won't you just 
look downstairs ? " she said. " I — I don't much mind 
going with you." 



138 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' Not any necessity/' replied he, and began to un- 
dress — and slipped the bolt again. 

" Why do you bolt the door to-night ? " asked 
Nancy. 

" To keep the thief out/' said he, in grim tones, 
which Nancy took for jesting. But she could not at 
all understand him. 

His restlessness kept her awake. '^ It must have 
been all fancy," she more than once heard him mutter 
to himself 

When he rose in the morning, his restlessness seemed 
still to hang upon him. Remarking to Nancy, who 
was only half-awake, that his nerves were out of 
order, and he should be all the better for a sea-bath, 
he dressed and left the room. Nancy got down at 
the usual hour, half-past eight ; and was told by Flore 
that monsieur had left word madame was not to wait 
breakfast for him : he was gone to have a dip in the 
sea, and should probably take a long country walk 
after it. 

Flore was making the coffee at the kitchen stove ; 
her mistress stood by, as if wanting to watch the 
process. These last few days, since Lavinia had been 
carried from the house, Nancy had felt easier in Flore's 
company than when alone with her own. 

'' That's to steady his nerves ; they are out of order," 
replied Nancy, who had as much idea of reticence as 
a child. "Monsieur had a great fright last night, 
Flore." 

'' Truly ! " said Flore, much occupied just then with 
her coffee-pot. 

'' He was coming up to bed between ten and eleven ; 
I had gone on. When nearly at the top of the stairs 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 139 

he thought he heard some one behind him. It startled 
him frightfully. Not being prepared for it, supposing 
that the house was empty, you see, Flore, of course it 
would startle him." 

" Naturally, madame." 

" He cried out, and dashed into the bedroom and 
bolted the door. I never saw any one in such a state 
of terror, Flore ; he was trembling all over ; his face 
was whiter than your apron." 

'' Vraiment ! " returned Flore, turning to look at 
her mistress in a little surprise. " But, madame, 
what had terrified him ? What was it that he had 
seen ? " 

" Why, he could have seen nothing," corrected Mrs. 
Fennel. " There was nothing to see." 

" Madame has reason ; there could have been 
nothing, the house being empty. But then, what 
could have frightened him ? " repeated Flore. 

'^ Why, he must have fancied it, I suppose. Any 
way, he fancied some one was there. The first 
question he asked me was, whether you were in the 
house." 

" Moi ! Monsieur might have known I should not 
be in the house at that hour, madame. And why 
should he show terror if he thought it was me ? '' 

Mrs. Fennel shrugged her shoulders. " It was a 
moment's scare ; just that, I conclude ; and it upset 
his nerves. A sea-bath will put him all right 
again." 

Flore carried the coffee into the salon, and her 
mistress sat down to breakfast. 

Now it chanced that this same week a guest came 
to stay with Madame Carimon. Stella Featherston, 



140 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

from Buttermead, was about to make a sojourn in 
Paris, and she took Sainteville on her route that she 
might stay a few days with her cousin, Mary Carimon, 
whom she had not seen for several years. 

Lavinia and Ann Preen had once been very intimate 
with Miss Featherston, who reached Madame Carimon's 
on the Thursday. On the Friday morning Mrs. 
Fennel called to see her — and, in Nancy's impromptu 
way, she invited her and Mary Carimon to take tea 
at seven o'clock that same evening at the Petite 
Maison Rouge. 

Nancy went home delighted. It was a little 
divertissement to her present saddened life. Captain 
Fennel knitted his brow when he heard of the 
arrangement, but made no objection in words. His 
wife shrank at the frown. 

" Don't you like my having invited Miss Feather- 
ston to tea, Edwin ? " 

*'0h! IVe no objection to it," he carelessly replied. 
'*I am not in love with either Carimon or his wife, 
and don't care how little I see of them." 

" He cannot come, having a private class on to- 
night. And I could not invite Miss Featherston 
without Mary Carimon," pleaded Nancy. 

" Just so. I am not objecting." 

With this somewhat ungracious assent, Nancy had 
to content herself She ordered a gateau Suisse, the 
nicest sort of gateau to be had at Sainteville ; and 
told Flore that she must for once remain for the 
evening. 

The guests appeared punctually at seven o'clock. 
Such a thing as being invited for one hour, and 
strolling in an hour or two after it, was a mark of 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 141 

English breeding never yet heard of in the simple- 
mannered French town. Miss Featherston, a smart, 
lively young woman, wore a cherry-coloured silk; 
Mary Carimon was in black ; she had gone into slight 
mourning for Lavinia. Good little Monsieur Jules 
had put a small band on his hat. 

Captain Fennel was not at home to tea, and the 
ladies had it all their own way in the matter of talk- 
ing. What with items of news from the old home, 
Buttermead, and Stella's telling about her own plans, 
the conversation never flagged a moment. 

"Yes, that's what I am going to Paris for," said 
Stella, explaining her plans. "I don't seem likely to 
marry, for nobody comes to ask me, and I mean to go 
out in the world and make a little money. It is a 
sin and a shame that a healthy girl, the eldest of 
three sisters, should be living upon her poor mother 
in idleness. Not much of a girl, you may say, for I . 
was three-and-thirty last week ! but we all like to 
pay ourselves compliments when age is in question." 

Nancy laughed. Almost the first time she had 
laughed since Lavinia's death. 

" So you are going to Paris to learn French, Stella ! " 

"I am going to Paris to learn French, Nancy," 
assented Miss Featherston. " I know it pretty well, 
but when I come to speak it I am all at sea ; and you 
can't get out as a governess now unless you speak it 
fluently. At each of the two situations I applied for 
in Worcestershire, it was the one fatal objection : ' We 
should have liked you, Miss Featherston, but vfe can 
only engage a lady who will speak French with the 
children.' So I made my mind up to speah French ; 
and I wrote to good Monsieur Jules Carimon, and he 



142 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

has found me a place to go to in Paris, where not a 
soul in the household speaks English. He says, and I 
say, that in six months I shall chatter away like a 
native," she concluded, laughing. 



XIV. 

About nine o'clock Captain Fennel came home. He 
was gracious to the visitors. Stella Featherston 
thought his manners were pleasing. Shortly after- 
wards Charley Palliser called. He apologized for the 
lateness of the hour, bat his errand was a good- 
natured one. His aunt, Mrs. Hardy, had received a 
box of delicious candied fruits from Marseilles ; she 
had sent him with a few to Mrs. Fennel, if that lady 
would kindly accept them. The truth was, every one 
in Sainteville felt sorry just now for poor Nancy 
Fennel. 

Nancy looked as delighted as a child. She called 
to Flore to bring plates, turned out the fruits and 
handed them round. Flore also brought in the gateau 
Suisse and glasses, and a bottle of Picardin wine, that 
the company might regale themselves. Charley 
Palliser suddenly spoke ; he had just thought of 
something. 

"Would it be too much trouble to give me back 
that book which I lent you a week or two ago — about 
the plans of the fortifications ? " he asked, turning to 
Captain Fennel. " I want it sometimes for reference 
in my studies." 

" Not at all ; I ought to have returned it to you 
before this — but the trouble here has driven other 



FEATHEESTON'S STORY. 143 

things out of my head/' replied Captain Fennel. " Let 
me see — where did I put it ? Nancy, do you remember 
where that book is ?— the heavy one, you know, with 
red edges and a mottled cover.'' 

" That book ? Why, it is on the drawers in our 
bedroom," replied Nancy. 

" To be sure ; I'll get it," said Captain Fennel. 

His wife called after him to bring down the 
dominoes also; some one might like a game. The 
captain did not intend to take the trouble of going 
himself ; he meant to send Flore. But Flore was not 
in the kitchen, and he took it for granted she was up- 
stairs. In fact, Flore was in the yard at the pump ; 
but he never thought of the yard or the pump. 
Lighting a candle, he strode upstairs. 

He was coming down again, the open box of 
dominoes and Charley Palliser's book in one hand, the 
candlestick in the other, when the same sort of thing 
seemed to occur which had occurred on Sunday night. 
Hearing, as he thought, some one close behind him, 
almost treading, as it were, upon his heels, and think- 
ing it was Flore, he turned his head round, intending 
to tell her to keep her distance. 

Then, with a frightful yell, down dashed Captain 
Fennel the few remaining stairs, the book, the candle- 
stick, and the box of dominoes all falling in the passage 
from his nerveless hands. The dominoes were hard 
and strong, and made a great crash. But it was the 
yell which had frightened the company in the salon. 

They flocked out in doubt and wonder. The candle 
had gone out; and Charley Palliser was bringing 
forth the lamp to light up the darkness, when he was 
nearly knocked down by Captain Fennel. Flore, 



144 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

returning from the pump with her own candle, much 
damaged by the air of the yard, held it up to survey 
the scene. 

Captain Fennel swept past Charley into the salon, 
and threw himself into a chair behind the door, after 
trying to dash it to ] but they were trooping in behind 
him. His breath was short, his terrified face looked 
livid as one meet for the grave. 

'' Why, what has happened to you, sir ? " asked 
Charles, intensely surprised. 

'' Oh ! he must have seen the thief again ! " shrieked 
Nancy. 

'' Shut the door ; bolt it ! " called out the stricken 
man. 

They did as they were bid. This order, as it 
struck them all, could only have reference to keeping 
out some nefarious intruder, such as a thief Flore 
had followed them in, after picking up the debris. 
She put the book and the dominoes on the table, and 
stood staring over her mistress's shoulder. 

" Has the thief got in again, Edwin ? " repeated 
Mrs. Fennel, who was beginning to tremble. *'Did 
you see him ? — or hear him ? '^ 

'•'My foot slipped; it sent me headforemost down 
the stairs," spoke the captain at last, conscious, perhaps, 
that something must be said to satisfy the inquisi- 
tive faces around him. " I heard Flore behind me, 
and '' 

" Not me, sir," put in Flore in her best English. " I 
was not upstairs at all ; I was out at the pump. There 
is nobody upstairs, sir ; there can t be." But Captain 
Fennel only glared at her in answer. 

" What did you cry out at ? " asked Charles Palliser, 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 145 

speaking soothingly, for he saw that the man was 
pitiably unstrung. "Have you had a thief in the 
house ? Did you think you saw one ? " 

''I saw no thief; there has been no thief in the 
house that I know of; I tell you I slipped— and it 
startled me," retorted the captain, his tones becoming 
savage. 

"Then — why did you have the door bolted, captain ? '' 
struck in Miss Stella Featherston, who was extremely 
practical and matter-of-fact, and who could not under- 
stand the scene at all. 

This time the captain glared at her. Only for a 
moment; a sickly smile then stole over his countenance. 

" Somebody here talked about a thief: I said bolt 
him out," answered he. 

With this general explanation they had to be con- 
tented ; but to none of them did it sound natural or 
straightforward. 

Order was restored. The ladies took a glass of wine 
each and some of the gateau, which Flore handed 
round. Charles Palliser said good-night and de- 
parted with his book. Captain Fennel went out at 
the same time. He turned into the cafe on the Place 
Ronde, and drank three small glasses of cognac in 
succession. 

"Nancy, what did you mean by talking about a 
thief?" began Madame Carimon, the whole thing 
much exercising her mind. 

Upon which, Mrs. Fennel treated them all, including 
Flore, to an elaborate account of her husband's fright 
on the Sunday night. 

"It was on the stairs ; just as it was again now," 
she said. " He thought he heard some one following 

Johnny Ludlow.— V. 10 



146 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

behind him as lie came up to bed. He fancied it was 
Flore ; but Flore had left hours before. I never saw 
any one show such terror in all my life. He said it 
was Flore behind him to-night, and you saw how 
terrified he was/' 

" But if he took it to be Flore, why should he be 
frightened ? " returned Mary Carimon. 

" Pardon, mesdames, but it is the same argument I 
made bold to use to madame/' interposed Flore from 
the background, where she stood. '' There is not any- 
thing in me to give people fright." 

"I — think — it must have been," said Mrs. Fennel, 
speaking slowly, ''that he grew alarmed when he 
found it was not Flore he saw. Both times." 

" Then who was it that he did see — to startle him 
like that ? " asked Mary Carimon. 

" Why, he must have thought it was a thief,'' replied 
Nancy. *' There's nothing else for it." 

At this juncture the argument was brought to a 
close by the entrance of Monsieur Jules Carimon, who 
had come to escort his wife and Stella Featherston 
home. 

These curious attacks of terror were repeated ; not 
often, but at a few days' interval ; so that at length 
Captain Fennel took care not to go about the house 
alone in the dark. He went up to bed when his wife 
did ; he would not go to the door, if a ring came after 
Flore's departure, without a light in his hand. By- 
and-by he improvised a lamp, which he kept on the 
slab. 

What w^as it that he was scared at ? An impression 
arose in the minds of the two or three people who 
were privy to this, that he saw, or fancied he saw, in 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 147 

the house the spectre of one who had just been carried 
out of it, Lavinia Preen. Nancy had no such suspicion 
as yet; she only thought her husband could not be 
well. She was much occupied about that time, having 
at length nerved herself to the task of looking over 
her poor sister s effects. 

One afternoon, when sitting in Lavinia's room (Flore 
— who stayed with her for company — had run down 
to the kitchen to see that the dinner did not burn), 
Nancy came upon a small, thin green case. Between 
its leaves she found three one-hundred-franc notes — 
twelve pounds in English value. She rightly judged 
that it was all that remained of her sister's nest-egg, 
and that she had intended to take it with her to 
Boulogne. 

'^Poor Lavinia!" she aspirated, the tears dropping 
from her eyes. '' Every farthing remaining of the 
quarter's mone;f she left with me for housekeeping." 

But now a thought came to Nancy. Placing the 
case on the floor near her, intending to show it to her 
husband — she was sitting on a stool before one of 
Lavinia's boxes — it suddenly occurred to her that it 
might be as well to say nothing to him about it. He 
would be sure to appropriate the money to his own 
private uses : and Nancy knew that she should need 
some for hers. There would be her mourning to pay 
for; and 

The room-door was wide open, and at this point in 
her reflections Nancy heard the captain enter the 
house with his latch-key, and march straight upstairs. 
In hasty confusion, she thrust the little case into the 
nearest hiding-place, which happened to be the front 
of her black dress bodice. 



148 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

" Nancy, I have to go to England/' cried the captain. 
'' How hot you look ! Can't you manage to do that 
without stooping ? " 

" To go to England ! " repeated Nancy, lifting her 
flushed face. 

'' Here's a letter from my brother ; the postman gave 
it me as I was crossing the Place Konde. It's only a 
line or two," he added, tossing it to her. "I must 
take this evening's boat." 

Nancy read the letter. Only a line or two, as he 
said, just telling the captain to go over with all speed 
upon a pressing matter of business, and that he could 
return before the week was ended. 

" Oh, but, Edwin, you can't go," began Nancy, in 
alarm. '' I cannot stay here by myself" 

" Not go ! Why, I must go," he said very decisively. 
'' How do I know what it is that I am wanted for ? 
Perhaps that property which we are always expecting 
to fall in." 

'' But I should be so lonely. I could not stay here 
alone." 

'' Nonsense ! " he sharply answered. " I shall not 
be away above one clear day; two days at the 
furthest. This is Thursday, and I shall return by 
Sunday's boat. You will only be alone to-morrow 
and Saturday." 

He turned away, thus putting an end to the dis- 
cussion, and entered their own room. As Nancy 
looked after him in despair, it suddenly struck her 
how very thin and ill he had become ; his face worn 
and grey. 

"He wants a change," she said to herself; "our 
trouble here has upset him as much as it did me. I'll 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 149 

say no more; I must not be selfish. Poor Lavinia 
used to warn me against selfishness." 

So Captain Fennel went off without further oppo- 
sition, his wife enjoining him to be sure to return on 
Sunday. The steamer was starting that night at 
eight o'clock; it was a fine evening, and Nancy 
walked down to the port with her husband and saw 
him on board. Nancy met an acquaintance down 
there ; no other than Charley Palliser. They strolled 
a little in the wake of the departing steamer ; Charley 
then saw her as far as the Place Ronde, and there 
wished her good-night. 

And now an extraordinary thing happened. As 
Mrs. Fennel opened the door with her latch-key, Flore 
having left, and was about to enter the dark passage, 
the same curious and unaccountable terror seized her 
which had been wont to attack Lavinia. Leaving the 
door wide open, she dashed up the passage, felt for 
the match-box, and struck a light. Then, candle in 
hand, she returned to shut the door ; but her whole 
frame trembled with fear. 

"Why, it's just what poor Lavinia felt!" she 
gasped. " What on earth can it be ? Why should it 
come to me ? I will take care not to go out to-morrow 
night or Saturday." 

And she held to her decision. Mrs. Hardy sent 
Charley Palliser to invite her for either day, or both 
days ; Mary Carimon sent Pauline with a note to the 
same effect; but Nancy returned a refusal in both 
cases, with her best thanks. 

The boat came in on Sunday night, but it did not 
bring Captain Fennel. On the Sunday morning the 
post had brought Nancy a few lines from him, saying 



150 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

he found the business on which he had been called to 
London was of great importance, and he was obliged 
to remain another day or two. 

Nancy was frightfully put out : not only vexed, but 
angry. Edwin had no business to leave her alone 
like that so soon after Lavinia's death. She bemoaned 
her hard fate to several friends on coming out of 
church, and Mrs. Smith carried her off to dinner. The 
major was not out that morning — a twinge of gout in 
the right foot had kept him indoors. 

This involved Nancy's going home alone in the 
evening, for the major could not walk with her. She 
did not like it. The same horror came over her before 
opening the door. She entered somehow, and dashed 
into the kitchen, hoping the stove was alight : a very 
silly hope, for Flore had been gone since the after- 
noon. 

Nancy lighted the candle in the kitchen, and then 
fancied she saw some one looking at her from the open 
kitchen-door. It looked like Lavinia. It certainly 
was Lavinia. Nancy stood spell-bound; then she gave 
a cry of desperate horror and dropped the candlestick. 

How she picked it up vshe never knew; the light 
had not gone out. Nothing was to be seen then. The 
apparition, if it had been one, had vanished. She got 
up to bed semehow, and lay shivering under the bed- 
clothes until morning. 

Quite early, when Nancy was at breakfast, Madame 
Carimon came in. She had already been to the fish- 
market, and came on to invite Nancy to her house for 
the day, having heard that Mr. Fennel was still absent. 
With a scared face and trembling lips, Nancy told her 
about the previous night — the strange horror of enter- 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 151 

ing which had begun to attack her, the figure of 
Lavinia at the kitchen-door. 

Madame Carimon, listening gravely, took, or 
appeared to take, a sensible view of it. '^ You have 
caught up this fear of entering the house, Nancy, 
through remembering that it attacked poor Lavinia," 
she said. '' Impressionable minds — and yours is one 
of them — take fright just as children catch measles. 
As to thinking you saw Lavinia ■ " 

" She had on the gown she wore the Sunday she 
was taken ill: her silver-grey silk, you know," inter- 
rupted Nancy. '^ She looked at me with a mournful, 
appealing gaze, just as if she wanted something." 

''Ay, you were just in the mood to fancy something 
of the kind," lightly spoke Madame Carimon. '' The 
fright of coming in had done that for you. I dare 
say you had been talking of Lavinia at Major Smith's." 

" Well, so we had," confessed Nancy, 

" Just so ; she was already on your mind, and 
therefore that and the fright you were in caused you 
to fancy you saw her. Nancy, my dear, you cannot 
imagine the foolish illusions our fancies play us." 

Easily persuaded, Mrs. Fennel agreed that it might 
have been so. She strove to forget the matter, and 
went out there and then with Mary Carimon. 

But this state of things was to continue. Captain 
Fennel did not return, and Nancy grew frightened to 
death at being alone in the house after dark. Flore 
was unable to stay longer than the time originally 
agreed for, her old mother being dangerously ill. As 
dusk approached, Nancy began to hate her destiny. 
Apart from nervousness, she was sociably inclined, 
and yearned for company. Now and again the 



152 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

inclination to accept an invitation was too strong to 
be resisted, or she went out after dinner, uninvited, to 
this friend or that. But the pleasure was counter- 
balanced by having to go in again at night ; the 
horror clung to her. 

If a servant attended her home, or any gentleman 
from the house where she had been, she made them 
go indoors with her whilst she lighted her candle ; 
once she got Monsieur Gustave's errand-boy to do so. 
But it was almost as bad with the lighted candle — the 
first feeling of being in the lonely house after they 
had gone. She wrote letter after letter, imploring her 
husband to return. Captain Fennel's replies were 
rich in promises : he would be back the very instant 
business permitted; probably "to-morrow, or the 
next day." But he did not come. 

One Sunday, when he had been gone about three 
weeks, and Nancy had been spending the day in the 
Rue Pomme Cuite, Mary Oarimon walked home with 
her in the evening. Monsieur Jules had gone to see 
his cousin off by the nine-o'clock train — Mademoiselle 
Priscille Carimon, who had come in to spend the day 
with them. She lived at Drecques. 

" You will come in with me, Mary ? " said Ann 
Fennel, as they gained the door. 

" To be sure I will," replied Madame Carimon, 
laughing lightly, for none knew about the fears better 
than she. 

Nancy took her hand as they went up the passage. 
She lighted the candle at the slab, and they went into 
the salon. Madame Carimon sat down for a few 
minutes, by way of reassuring her. Nancy took off 
her bonnet and mantle. On the table was a small 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 153 

tray with the tea-things upon it. Flore had left it 
there in readiness, not quite certain whether her 
mistress would come in to tea or not. 

''I had such a curious dream last night/' began 
Nancy ; " those tea-things put me in mind of it. 
Lavinia " 

"For goodness' sake don't begin upon dreams to- 
night ! " interposed Madame Carimon. '' You know 
they always frighten you." 

" Oh, but this was a pleasant dream, Mary. I 
thought that I and Lavinia were seated at a little 
table, with two teacups between us full of tea. The 
cups were very pretty ; pale amber with gilt scrolls, 
and the china so thin as to be transparent. I can see 
them now. And Lavinia said something which made 
me smile; but I don't remember what it was. Ah, 
Mary ! i£ she were only back again with us ! " 

'' She is better off, you know," said Mary Carimon 
in tender tones. 

" All the same, it was a cruel fate that took her ; I 
shall never think otherwise. I wish I knew what 
it was she died of! Flore told me one day that 
Monsieur Podevin quite laughed at the idea of its 
being a chill." 

''Well, Nancy, it was you who stopped it, you 
know." 

" Stopped what ? " asked Nancy. 

" The investigation the doctors would have made 
after death. Both of them were much put out at 
your forbidding it : for their own satisfaction they 
wished to ascertain particulars. I may tell you now 
that I thought you were wrong to interfere." 

" It was Captain Fennel," said Nancy calmly. 



154 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

" Captain Fennel 1 " echoed Mary Carimon. " Mon- 
sieur Dupuis told me that Captain Fennel wished for 
it' as much as he and Monsieur Podevin/' 

Captain Fennel's wife shook her head. "They 
asked him about it before they left, after she died. 
He came to me, and I said. Oh, let them do what they 
would ; it could not hurt her now she was dead. I 
was in such terrible distress, Mary, that I hardly 
knew or cared what I said. Then Edwin drew so 
dreadful a picture of what post-mortems are, and how 
barbarously her poor neck and arms would be cut and 
slashed, that I grew sick and frightened.*' 

" And so you stopped it — by reason of the picture 
he drew ? " 

*' Yes. I came running down here to Monsieur 
Dupuis — Monsieur Podevin had gone — for Edwin said 
it must be my decision, not his, and his name had 
better not be mentioned; and I begged and prayed 
Monsieur Dupuis not to hold it. I think I startled 
him^ good old man. I was almost out of my mind ; 
quite wild with agitation; and he promised me it 
should be as I wished. That's how it all was, 
Mary." 

Mary Carimon's face wore a curious look. Then 
she rallied, speaking even lightly. 

"Well, well; it could not have brought her back 
to life ; and I repeat that we must remember she is 
better off. And now, Nancy, I want you to show me 
the pretty purse that Miss Perry has knitted for you, 
if you have it at hand." * 

Nancy rose, opened her workbox, which stood on 
the side-table, and brought forth the purse. Of 
course Madame Carimon's motive had been to change 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY, 155 

her thoughts. After admiring the purse^ and talking 
of other pleasant matters, Mary took her departure. 

And the moment the outer door had closed upon 
her that feeling of terror seized upon Nancy. Catch- 
ing up her mantle with one hand and the candle with 
the other, she made for the staircase, leaving her 
bonnet and gloves in the salon. The staircase struck 
cold to her, and she could hear the wind whistling, 
for it was a windy night. As to the candle, it seemed 
to burn with a pale flame and not to give half its 
usual light. 

In her nervous agitation, just as she gained the 
uppermost stair, she dropped her mantle. Raising her 
head from stooping to pick it up, she suddenly saw 
some figure before her at the end of the passage. It 
stood beyond the door of her own room, close to that 
which had been her sister's. 

It was Lavinia. She appeared to be habited in the 
silver-grey silk already spoken of. Her gaze was 
fixed upon Nancy, with the same imploring aspect of 
appeal, as if she wanted something ; her pale face was 
inexpressibly mournful. With a terrible cry, Nancy 
tore into her own room, the mantle trailing after her. 
She shut the door and bolted it, and buried her face 
in the counterpane in wild agony. 

And in that moment a revelation came to Ann 
Fennel. It was this apparition which had been wont 
to haunt her husband in the house and terrify him 
beyond control. Not a thief; not Flore — but Lavinia! 



156 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 



XV. 



On the Monday morning Flore found her mistress in 
so sick and suffering and strange a state, that she sent 
for Madame Carimon. In vain Mary Carimon, after 
hearing Nancy's tale, strove to convince her that what 
she saw was fancy, the effect of diseased nerves. 
Nancy was more obstinate than a mule. 

" What I saw was Lavinia," she shivered. "Lavinia's 
apparition. No good to tell me it was not; I have 
seen it now twice. It was as clear and evident to me, 
both times, as ever she herself was in life. That's 
what Edwin used to see ; I know it now ; and he 
became unable to l^ear the house. I seem to read it 
all as in a book, Mary. He got his brother to send 
for him, and he is staying away because he dreads to 
come back again. But you know I cannot stay here 
alone now." 

Madame Carimon wrote off at once to Captain 
Fennel, Nancy supplying the address. She told him 
that his wife was ill ; in a nervous state ; fancying 
she saw Lavinia in the house. Such a report, she 
added, should if possible be kept from spreading to 
the town, and therefore she must advise him to return 
without delay. 

The letter brought back Captain Fennel, Flore 
having meanwhile remained entirely at the Petite 
Maison Rouge. Perhaps the captain did not in secret 
like that little remark of its being well to keep it from 
the public; he may have considered it suggestive, 
coming from Mary Carimon. He believed she read 
him pretty correctly, and he hated her accordingly. 



FEATHEHSTON'S STORY. 157 

Any way, he deemed it well to be on the spot. Left 
to herself, there was no telling what ridiculous things 
Nancy might be saying or fancying. 

Edwin Fennel did not return alone. His brother's 
wife was with him. Mrs. James, they called her, 
James being the brothers Christian name. Mrs. 
James was not a lady in herself or in manner ; but 
she was lively and very good-natured, and these 
qualities were what the Petite Maison Rouge wanted 
in it just now ; and perhaps that was Captain Fennels 
motive in bringing her. Nancy was delighted. She 
almost forgot her fears and fancies. Flore was agree- 
able also, for she was now at liberty to return to 
ordinary arrangements. Thus there was a lull in the 
storm. They walked out with Mrs. James on the 
pier, and took her to see the different points of interest 
in the town; they even gave a little soiree for her, 
and in return were invited to other houses. 

One day, when the two ladies were gossiping 
together, Nancy, in the openness of her heart, related 
to Mrs. James the particulars of Lavinia s unexpected 
and rather mysterious death, and of her appearing in 
the house again after it. Captain Fennel disturbed 
them in the midst of the story. His wife was taking 
his name in vain at the moment of his entrance, 
saying how scared he had been at the apparition. 

'' Hold your peace, you foolish woman ! " he 
thundered, looking as if he meant to strike her. 
" Don't trouble Mrs. James's head with such miserable 
rubbish as that." 

Mrs. James did not appear to mind it. She burst 
into a hearty laugh. She never had seen a ghost, she 
said, and was sure she never should ; there were no 



158 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

such things. But she should like to hear all about 
poor Miss Preen's death. 

" There was nothing else to hear," the captain 
growled. '^ She caught a chill on the Sunday, coming 
out of the hot church after morning service. It struck 
inwardly, bringing on inflammation, which the medical 
men could not subdue." 

"But you know, Edwin, the church never is hot, 
and you know the doctors decided it was not a chill. 
Monsieur Podevin especially denied it," dissented 
Nancy, who possessed about as much insight as a 
goose, and a little less tact. 

" Then what did she die of ?" questioned Mrs. James. 
'' Was she poisoned ? " 

" Oh, how can you suggest so dreadful a thing ! " 
shrieked Nancy. " Poisoned ! Who would be so 
wicked as to poison Lavinia ? Every one loved her." 

Which again amused the listening lady. "You 
have a quick imagination, Mrs. Edwin," she laughed. 
" I was thinking of mushrooms." 

"And I o£ tinned meats and copper saucepans," 
supplemented Captain Fennel. "However, there 
could be no suspicion even of that sort in Lavinia's 
case, since she had touched nothing but what we all 
partook of She died of inflammation, Mrs. James." 

"Little doubt of it," acquiesced Mrs. James. ''A 
friend of mine went, not twelve months ago, to a 
funeral at Brompton Cemetery ; the ground was damp, 
and she caught a chill. In four days she was dead." 

''Women have no business at funerals," growled 
Edwin Fennel. " Why should they parade their grief 
abroad ? You see nothing of the kind in France." 

"In truth I think you are not far wrong," said Mrs. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 159 

James. *' It is a fashion which has sprung up of late. 
A few years ago it was as much unknown with us as 
it is with the French." 

" They will be catching it up next, I suppose/' 
retorted the captain, as if the thing were a personal 
grievance to him. 

" Little doubt of it/' laughed Mrs. James. 

After staying at Sainteville for a month, Mrs. James 
Fennel took her departure for London. Captain 
Fennel proposed to escort her over ; but his wife went 
into so wild a state at the mere mention of it, that he 
had to give it up. 

" I dare not stay in the house by myself, Edwin/' 
she shuddered. '' I should go to the Vice-Consul and 
to other influential people here, and tell them of my 
misery — that I am afraid of seeing Lavinia/' 

And Captain Fennel believed she would be capable 
of doing it. So he remained with her. 

That the spectre of the dead-and-gone Lavinia did 
at times appear to them, or else their fancies conjured 
up the vision, was all too certain. Three times during 
the visit of Mrs. James the captain had been betrayed 
into one of his fits of terror : no need to ask what had 
caused it. After her departure the same thing took 
place. Nancy had not again seen anything, but she 
knew he had. 

" We shall not be able to stay in the house, Edwin," 
liis wife said to 'him one evening when they were 
sitting in the salon at dusk after Flore's departure ; 
nothing having led up to the remark. 

" I fancy we should be as well out of it," replied he. 

" Oh, Edwin, let us go ! If we can ! There will be 
%11 the rent to pay up first." 



160 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

"All the what ?" said he. 

'^ The rent," repeated Nancy ; " up to the end of 
the term we took it for. About three years longer, 
I think, Edwin. That would be sixty pounds." 

"And where do you suppose the sixty pounds 
would come from ? " 

" I don't know. There's the impediment, you see," 
remarked Nancy blankly. " We cannot leave without 
paying up." 

"Unless we made a moonlight flitting of it, my 
dear." 

"That I never will," she rejoined, with a firmness 
he could not mistake. "You are only jesting, Edwin." 

"It would be no jesting matter to pay up that 
claim, and others; for there are others. Our better 
plan, Nancy, will be to go off by the London boat 
some night, and not let any one know where we are 
until I can come back to pay. You may see it is the 
only thing to be done, and you must bring your mind 
to it." 

" Never by me," said Nancy, strong in her innate 
rectitude. "As to hiding ourselves anywhere, that 
can never be ; I should not conceal my address from 
Mary Carimon — I could not conceal it from Colonel 
Selby." 

Captain Fennel ground his teeth. " Suppose I say 
that this shall be, that we will go, and order you to 
obey me ? What then ? " 

" No, Edwin, I could not. I should go in to 
Monsieur Gustavo Sauvage, and say to him, ' We were 
thinking of running away, but I cannot do it ; please 
put me in prison until I can pay the debt/ And 
then " 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 161 

" Are you an idiot ? " asked Captain Fennel, staring 
at her. 

" And then, when I was in prison/' went on Nancy, 
'' I should write to tell William Selby ; and perhaps 
he would come over and release me. Please don't 
talk in this kind of way again, Edwin. I should keep 
my word.'' 

Mr. Edwin Fennel could not have felt more as- 
tounded had his wife then and there turned into a 
dromedary before his eyes. She had hitherto been 
tractable as a child. But he had never tried her in 
a thing that touched her honour, and he saw that the 
card which he had intended to play was lost. 

Captain Fennel played another. He went away 
himself 

Making the best he could of the house and its 
haunted state (though day by day saw him looking 
more and more like a walking skeleton) throughout 
the greater part of June, for the summer had come in, 
he despatched his wife to Pontipette one market day 
— Saturday — to remain there until the following 
Wednesday. Old Mrs. Hardy had gone to the homely 
but comfortable hotel at Pontipette for a change, and 
she wrote to invite Nancy to stay a short time with 
her. Charles Palliser was in England. Captain Fennel 
proceeded to London by that same Saturday night's 
boat, armed with a letter from his wife to Colonel 
Selby, requesting the colonel to pay over to her 
husband her quarterly instalment instead of sending 
it to herself. Captain Fennel had bidden her do this ; 
and Nancy, of strict probity in regard to other people's 
money, could not resist signing over her own. 

" But you will be sure to bring it all back, won't 

Johnny Ludlow.^-V. 1 1 



162 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

you, Edwin ? and to be here by Wednesday, the day 
I return ? " she said to him. 

'' Why, of course I shall, my dear/' 

" It will be a double portion now — thirty-five 
pounds." 

''And a good thing, too; we shall want it," he 
returned. 

'' Indeed, yes ; there's such a heap of things owing 
for," concluded Nancy. 

Thus the captain went over to England in great 
glee, carrying with him the order for the money. But 
he was reckoning without his host. 

Upon presenting himself at the bank in the City on 
Monday morning, he found Colonel Selby absent ; not 
expected to return before the end of that week, or the 
beginning of the next. This was a check for Captain 
Fennel. He quite glared at the gentleman who thus 
informed him — Mr. Y/est, who sat in the colonel's 
room, and was his locum tenens for the time 
being. 

" Business is transacted all the same, I conclude ? " 
said he snappishly. 

'•'Why, certainly," replied Mr. West, marvelling at 
the absurdity of the question. *' What can I do for 
you ? " 

Captain Fennel produced his wife's letter, request- 
ing that her quarter's money should be paid over to 
him, and handed in her receipt for the same. Mr. 
West read them both, the letter twice, and then 
looked direct through his silver-rimmed spectacles at 
the applicant. 

" I cannot do this," said he ; " it is a private matter 
of Colonel Selby's." 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 163 

*' It is nob more private than any other payment 
you may have to make/' retorted Captain Fennel. 

"Pardon me, it is. This really does not concern 
the bank at all. I cannot pay it without Colonel 
Selby's authority: he has neither given it nor men- 
tioned it to me. Another thing: the payment, as I 
gather from the wording of Mrs. Ann Fennel's letter, 
is not yet due. Upon that score, apart from any 
other, I should decline to pay if 

" It will be due in tv/o or three days. Colonel Selby 
would not object to forestall the time by that short 
period." 

"That would, of course, be for the colonel's own 
consideration." 

" I particularly wish to receive the money this 
morning." 

Mr. West shook his head in answer. " If you will 
leave Mrs. Fennel's letter and receipt in ray charge, 
sir, I will place them before the colonel as soon as he 
returns. That is all I can do. Or perhaps you would 
prefer to retain the latter," he added, handing back 
the receipt over the desk. 

"Business men are the very devil to stick at 
straws," muttered Captain Fennel under his breath. 
He saw it was no use trying to move the one before 
him, and went out, saying he would call in a day or 
two. 

Now it happened that Colonel Selby, who was only 
staying at Brighton for a rest (for he had been very 
unwell of late), took a run up to town that same 
Monday morning to see his medical attendant. His 
visit paid, he went on to the bank, surprising Mr. 
West there about one o'clock. After some conference 



164 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

upon business matters, Mr. West spoke of Captain 
Fennel's visit, and handed over the letter he had left. 

Colonel Selby drew in his lips as he read it. He 
did not like Mr. Edwin Fennel ; and he would most 
assuredly not pay Ann Fennel's money to him. He 
returned the letter to Mr. West. 

" Should the man come here again, West, tell him, 
as you did this morning, that he can see me on my 
return — which will probably be on this day week," 
said the colonel. " No need to say I have been up 
here to-day." 

And on the following day, Tuesday, Colonel Selby, 
being then at Brighton, drew out a cheque for the 
quarter almost due and sent it by post to Nancy at 
Sainteville. 

Thus checkmated in regard to the money, Captain 
Fennel did not return home at the time he promised, 
even if he had had any intention of doing so. When 
Nancy returned to Sainteville on the Wednesday from 
Pontipette, he was not there. The first thing she saw 
waiting for her on the table was Colonel Selby's letter 
containing the cheque for five-and-thirty pounds. 

'' How glad I am it has come to me so soon ! " cried 
Nancy ; " I can pay the bills now. I suppose William 
Selby thinks it would not be legal to pay it to Edwin." 

The week went on. Each time a boat came in, 
Nancy was promenading the port, expecting to see 
her husband land from it. On the Sunday morning 
Nancy received a letter from him, in which he told 
her he was waiting to see Colonel Selby, to get the 
money paid to him. Nancy wrote back hastily, say- 
ing it had been received by herself, and that she had 
paid it nearly all away in settling the bills. She 



FEATHEESTON'S STORY. 165 

begged him to come back by the next boat. Flore 
was staying in the house altogether, but at an 
inconvenience. 

On the Monday evening Mrs. Fennel had another 
desperate fright. She went to take tea with an 
elderly lady and her daughter, Mrs. and Miss Lambert, 
bidding Flore to come for her at half-past nine o'clock. 
Half-past nine came, but no Flore ; ten o'clock came, 
and then Mrs. Fennel set off alone, supposing Flore 
had misunderstood her and would be found waiting 
for her at home. The moonlit streets were crowded 
with promenaders returning from their summer evening 
walk upon the pier. 

Nancy rang the bell; but it was not answered. 
She had her latch-key in her pocket, but preferred 
to be admitted, and she rang again. No one came. 
" Flore must have dropped asleep in the kitchen," she 
petulantly thought, and drew out her key. 

" Flore ! " she called out, pushing the door back, 
" Flore, where are you ? " 

Flore apparently was nowhere, very much to the 
dismay of Mrs. Fennel. She would have to go in 
alone, all down the dark passage, and wake her up. 
Leaving the door wide open, she advanced in the 
dark with cautious steps, the old terror full upon 
her. 

The kitchen was dark also, so far as fire or candle- 
light went, but a glimmer of moonlight shone in at 
the window. *^ Are you not here, Flore ? " shivered 
Nancy. But there was no response. 

Groping for the match-box on the mantel-shelf 
over the stove, and not at once finding it, Nancy 
suddenly took up an impression that some one was 



186 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

standing in the misty rays of the moon. Gazing 
attentively, it seemed to assume the shadowy form of 
Lavinia. And with a shuddering cry ISTancy Fennel 
fell down upon the brick floor of the kitchen. 



XVI. 

It was a lovely summer s day, and Madame Carimon a 
neat little slip of a kitchen was bright and hot with 
the morning sun. Madame, herself, stood before the 
paste-board, making a green-apricot tart. Of pies 
and tarts a la mode Anglaise, Monsieur Jules was 
more fond than a schoolboy ; and of all tarts known 
to the civilized world, none can equal that of a green 
apricot. 

Madame had put down the rolling-pin, and stood 
for the moment idle, looking at Flore Pamart, and 
listening to something that Flore was saying. Flore, 
whisking out of the Petite Maison Eouge a few 
minutes before, ostensibly to do her morning's market- 
ings, had vfhisked straight off to the Rue Pomme 
Cuite, and was now seated at the corner of the pastry- 
table, telling a story to Madame Carimon. 

'^It was madame's own fault," she broke off in her 
tale to remark. " Madame will give me her orders 
in French, and half the time I can't understand them. 
She had an engagement to take tea at Madame Smith's 
in the Rue.Lambeau, was what I thought she said to 
me, and that I must present myself there at half-past 
nine to walk home with her. Well, madame, I went 
accordingly, and found nobody at home there but the 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 167 

bonne, Thomasine. Her master was dining out at the 
Sous-prefet'S; and her mistress had gone out with some 
more ladies to walk on the pier, as it was so fine an 
evening. Naturally I thought my mistress was one 
of the ladies, and sat there waiting for her and chatting 
with Thomasine. Madame Smith came in at ten 
o'clock, and then she said that my lady had not been 
there and that she had not expected her." 

" She must have gone to tea elsewhere/' observed 
Madame Carimon. 

" Clearly, madam e ; as I afterwards found. It was 
to Madame Lambert's, in the Rue Lothaire, that I 
ought to have gone. I could only go home, as madame 
sees ; and when I arrived there I found the house-door 
wide open. Just as I entered, a frightful cry came 
from the kitchen, and there I found her dropped 
down on the floor, half senseless with terror. Madame, 
she avowed to me that she had seen Mademoiselle 
Lavinia standing near her in the moonlight." 

Madame Carimon took up her rolling-pin slowly 
before she spoke. '' I know she has a fancy that she 
appears in the house." 

"Madame Carimon, I think she is in the house," 
said Flore solemnly. And for a minute or two Madame 
Carimon rolled her paste in silence. 

'' Monsieur Fennel used to see her — I am sure he 
did — and now his wife sees her," went on the woman, 
" I think that is the secret of his running away so 
much : he can't bear the house and what is haunt- 
ing it." 

"It is altogether a dreadful thing; I lie awake 
thinking of it," bewailed Mary Carimon. 

'* But it cannot be let go on like this," said Flore ; 



168 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

"and that's what has brought me running here this 
morning — to ask you, madame, whether anything can 
be done. If she is left alone to see these sights, she'll 
die of it. When she got up this morning she was 
vshivering like a leaf in the wind. Has madame 
noticed that she is wasting away ? For the matter 
of that, so was Monsieur Fennel." 

Madame Carimon, beginning to line her shallow 
dish with paste, nodded in assent. " He ought to be 
here with her," she remarked. 

" Catch him," returned Flore, in a heat. *' Pardon, 
madame, but I must avow I trust not that gentleman. 
He is no good. He will never come back to stay at 
the house so long as there is in it — what is there. He 
dare not ; and I would like to ask him why not. A 
man with the conscience at ease could not be that sort 
of coward. Honest men do not fly away, all scared, 
when they fancy they see a revenant." 

Deeming it might be unwise to pursue the topic 
from this point, Madame Carimon said she would go 
and see Mrs. Fennel in the course of the day, and 
Flore clattered off*, her wooden shoes echoing on the 
narrow pavement of the Eue Pomme Cuite. 

But, as Madame Carimon was crossing the Place 
Ronde in the afternoon to pay her visit, she met Mrs. 
Fennel. Of course, Flore's communication was not to 
be mentioned. 

''Ah," said Madame Carimon readily, ''is it you? 
I was coming to ask if you would like to take a walk 
on the pier with me. It is a lovely afternoon, and 
not too hot." 

" Oh, I'll go," said Nancy. " I came out because it 
is so miserable at home. When Flore went off* to the 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 169 

fish-market after breakfast, I felt more lonely than 
you would believe. Mary/' dropping her voice, "I 
saw Lavinia last night." 

- " Now I won t listen to that/' retorted Mary Carimon, 
as if she were reprimanding a child. " Once give in 
to our nerves and fancies, there's no end to the tricks 
they play us. I wish, Ann, your house were in a 
more lively situation, where you might sit at the 
window and watch the passers-by." 

'' But it isn't," said Nancy sensibly. " It looks upon 
nothing but the walls." 

Walking on, they sat down upon a bench that 
stood back from the port, facing the harbour. Nearly 
opposite lay the English boat, busily loading for 
London. The sight made Nancy sigh. 

''I wish it would bring Edwin the next time it 
comes in," she said in low tones. 

'' When do you expect him ? " 

" I don't know when/' said poor Nancy with 
emphasis. " Mary, I am beginning to think he stays 
away because he is afraid of seeing Lavinia." 

*' Men are not afraid of those foolish things, Ann." 

" He is. Eecollect those fits of terror he had. He 
used to hear her following him up and downstairs; 
used to see her on the landings." 

Madame Carimon found no ready answer. She had 
witnessed one of those fits of terror herself. 

^' Last night," went on Mrs. Fennel, after a pause, 
" when Flore had left me and I could only shiver in 
my bed, and not expect to sleep, I became calm enough 
to ask myself why Lavinia should come back again, 
and what it is she wants. Can you think why, 
Mary ? " 



170 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' Not I/' said Madame Carimoa lightly. " I shall 
only believe she does come when she shows herself 
to me." 

" And I happened on the thought that, possibly, she 
may be wanting ns to inquire into the true cause of 
her death. It might have been ascertained at the 
time, but for my stopping the action of the doctors, 
you know." 

'' Ann, my dear, you should exercise a little common 
sense. I would ask you what end ascertaining it now 
would answer, to her, dead, or to you, living ? " 

'' It might be seen that she could have been cured, 
had we only known what the malady was." 

'' But you did not know ; the doctors did not know. 
It could only have been discovered, even at your 
showing, after her death, not in time to save her." 

" I wish Monsieur Diipuis had come more quickly 
on the Monday night ! " sighed Nancy. " I am always 
wishing it. You can picture what it was, Mary — 
Lavinia lying in that dreadful agony and no doctor 
coming near her. Edwin was gone so long — so long ! 
He could not wake up Monsieur Dupuis. I think now 
that the bell was out of order." 

" Why do you think that now ? Captain Fennel 
must have known whether the bell answered to his 
summons, or not." 

" Well," returned Nancy, '' this morning when Flore 
returned with the fish, she said I looked ver}? ill. She 
had just seen Monsieur Dupuis in the Place Ronde, 
and she ran out again and brought him in " 

" Did you mention to him this fancy of seeing 
Lavinia ? " hastily interrupted Madame Carimon. 

'' No, no ; I don't talk of that to people. Only to 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 171 

you and Flore ; and— yes — I did tell Mrs. Smith. I 
let Monsieur Dupuis think I was ill with grieving 
after Lavinia^ and we talked a little about her. I said 
how I wished he could have been here sooner on the 
Monday night, and that my husband had rung several 
times before he could arouse him. Monsieur Dupuis 
said that was a mistake ; he had got up and come as 
soon as he was called; he was not asleep at the time, 
and the bell had rung only once." 

" What an extraordinary thing ! " exclaimed Mary 
Carimon. '' I know your husband said he rang many 
times." 

" That's why I now think the bell must have been 
out of order ; but I did not say so to Monsieur 
Dupuis," returned Nancy. " He is a kind old man, 
and it would grieve him : for of course we know 
doctors ought to keep their door-bells in order." 

Madame Carimon rose in silence, but full of thought, 
and they continued their walk. It was low water in 
the harbour, but the sun was sparkling and playing on 
the waves out at sea. On the pier they found Rose 
and Anna Bosanquet; and in chatting with them 
Nancy's mood became more cheerful. 

That same evening, on that same pier, Mary Carimon 
spoke a few confidential words to her husband. They 
sat at the end of it, and the beauty of the night, so 
warm and still, induced them to linger. The bright 
moon sailed grandly in the heavens and glittered upon 
the water that now filled the harbour, for the tide was 
in. Most of the promenaders had turned down the 
pier again, after watching out the steamer. What a 
fine passage she would make, and was making, cutting 
there so smoothly through the crystal sea ! 



172 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Mary Carimon began in a low voice, though no one 
was near to listen and the waves could not hear her. 
She spoke pretty fully of a haunting doubt that lay 
upon her mind, as to whether Lavinia had died a 
natural death. 

''If we make the best of it," she concluded, ''her 
dying in that strangely sudden way was unusual ; you 
know that, Jules ; quite unaccountable. It never has 
been accounted for." 

Monsieur Jules, gazing on the gentle waves as they 
rose and fell in the moonlight at the mouth of the 
harbour, answered nothing. 

" He had so much to wish her away for, that man : 
all the money would become Nancy's. And I'm sure 
there was secret enmity between them— on both sides. 
Don t you see, Jules, how suspicious it aU looks ? " 

The moonbeams, illumining Monsieur Jules Cari- 
mon s face, showed it to be very impassive, betraying 
no indication that he as much as heard what his wife 
was talking about. 

'' I have not forgotten, I can never forget, Jules, the 
very singular Fate-reading, or whatever you may 
please to call it, spoken by the Astrologer Talcke last 
winter at Miss Bosanquet's soiree. You were not in 
the room, you know, but I related it to you when we 
arrived home. He certainly foretold Lavinia's death, 
as I, recalling the words, look upon it now. He said 
there was some element of evil in their house, threaten- 
ing and terrible ; he repeated it more than once. In 
their house, Jules, and that it would end in darkness ; 
which, as every one understood, meant death : not for 
Mrs. Fennel; he took care to tell her that; but for 
another. He said the cards were more fateful than 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 173 

he had ever seen them. That evil in the house was 
Fennel.'' 

Still Monsieur Jules offered no comment. 

'' And what could be the meaning of those dreams 
Lavinia had about him, in which he always seemed to 
be preparing to inflict upon her some fearful ill, and 
she knew she never could and never would escape from 
it ? '' ran on Mary Carimon, her eager, suppressed 
tones bearing a gruesome sound in the stillness of the 
night. "And what is the explanation of the fits of 
terror which have shaken Fennel since the death, 
fancying he sees Lavinia? Flore said to me this 
morning that she is sure Lavinia is in the house." 

Glancing at her husband to see that he was at least 
listening, but receiving no confirmation of it by word 
or motion, Mary Carimon continued : 

'' Those dreams came to warn her, Jules. To warn 
her to get out of the house while she could. And she 
made arrangements to go, and in another day or two 
would have been away in safety. But he was too 
quick for her." 

Monsieur Jules Carimon turned now to face his 
wife. " Mon amie, tais toi," said he with authority. 
"Such a topic is not convenable," he added, still in 
French, though she had spoken in English. '' It is 
dangerous." 

" But, Jules, I believe it to have been so!' 

" All the same, and whether or no, it is not your 
affair, Marie. Neither must you make it so. Believe 
me, my wife, the only way to live peaceably ourselves 
in the vforld is to let our neio^hbours' sins alone.'' 



174 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 



XVII. 



Captain Edwin Fennel was certainly in no hurry 
to return to Sainteville, for he did not come. Nancy, 
ailing, weak, wretchedly uncomfortable, wrote letter 
after letter to him, generally sending them over by 
some friend or other who might be crossing, to be put 
in a London letter-box, and so evade the foreign 
postage. Once or twice she had written to Mrs. James, 
telling of her lonely life and that she wanted Edwin 
either to take her out of the dark and desolate house, 
or else to come back to it himself. Captain Fennel 
would answer now and again, promising to come — she 
would be quite sure to see him on one of the first 
boats if she looked out for their arrival. Nancy did 
look, but she had not yet seen him. She was growing 
visibly thinner and weaker. Sainteville said how ill 
Mrs. Fennel was looking. 

One evening at the end of July, when the London 
steamer was due about ten o'clock, Nancy went to 
watch it in, as usual, Flore attending her. The port 
was gay, crowded with promenaders. There had been 
a concert at the Rooms, and the company was coming 
home from it. Mrs. Fennel had not made one : latterly 
she had felt no spirit for amusement. Several friends 
met her ; she did not tell them she had come down to 
meet her husband, if haply he should be on the ex- 
pected boat ; she had grown tired and half ashamed of 
saying that ; she let them think she was only out for 
a walk that fine evening. There was a yellow glow 
still in the sky where the sun had set; the north-west 
was clear and bright with its opal light. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 175 

The time went on ; the port became deserted, ex- 
cepting a few passing stragglers. Ten o'clock had 
struck, eleven would soon strike. Flore and her 
mistress, tired of pacing about, sat down on one of the 
benches facing the harbour. One of two young men, 
passing swiftly homewards from the pier, found him- 
self called to. 

'' Charley ! Charley Palliser ! " 

Charles turned, and recognized Mrs. Fennel. 
Stepping across to her, he shook hands. 

"What do you think can have become of the 
boat ? " she asked. " It ought to have been in nearly 
an hour ago." 

" Oh, it will be here shortly," he replied. " The 
boat often makes a slow passage when there's no 
wind. What little wind we have had to-day has 
been dead against it." 

''As IVe just said to madame," put in Flore, always 
ready to take up the conversation. *'Mr. Charles 
knows there's no fear .it has gone down, though it 
may be a bit late." 

" Why, certainly not," laughed Charley. '' Are you 
waiting here for it, Mrs. Fennel ? " 

" Ye — s," she answered, but with hesitation. 

"And as it's not even in sight yet, madame had 
much better go home and not wait, for the air is getting 
chilly," again spoke Flore. 

'* We can't see whether it's in sight or not," said 
her mistress. " It is dark out at sea." 

" Shall I wait here with you, Mrs, Fennel ? " asked 
Charley in his good nature. 

" Oh no, no ; no, thank you/' she answered quickly. 
" If it does not come in soon, we shall go home." , 



176 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

He wished them good-night, and went onwards. 

" She is hoping the boat may bring that mysterious 
brute, Fennel," remarked Charles to his companion. 
' " Brute, you call him ? " 

'^ He is no better than one, to leave his sick wife 
alone so long," responded Charles in hearty tones. 
" She has picked up an idea, I hear, that the house is 
haunted, and shakes in her shoes in it from morning 
till night." 

The two watchers sat on, Flore grumbling. Not 
for herself, but for her mistress. A sea-fog was 
rising, and Flore thought madame might take cold. 
Mrs. Fennel wrapped her light fleecy shawl closer 
about her chest, and protested she was quite hot. 
The shawl was well enough for a warm summers 
night, but not for a cold sea-fog. About half-past 
eleven there suddenly loomed into view through the 
mist the lights of the steamer, about to enter the 
harbour. 

'' There she is ! " exultingly cried Nancy, who had 
been shivering inwardly for some time past, and doing 
her best not to shiver outwardly for fear of Flore. 
"And now, Flore, you go home as quickly as you can 
and make a fire in the salon to warm us. I'm sure 
he will need one — at sea in this cold fog." 

"If he is come," mentally returned Flore in her 
derisive heart. She had no faith in the return of 
Monsieur Fennel by any boat, a day or a night one. 
But she needed no second prompting to hasten away ; 
was too glad to do it. 

Poor Nancy waited on. The steamer came very 
slowly up the port, or she fancied so; one must be 
cautious in a fog; and it seemed to her a long time 



FEATHP]RSTON'S STORY. 177 

swinging round and settling itself into its place. 
Then the passengers came on shore one by one, Nancy- 
standing close to look at them. There were only 
about twenty in all, and Captain Fennel was not one 
of them. With misty eyes and a rising in her throat 
and spiritless footsteps, Nancy arrived at her home, 
the Petite Maison Rouge. Flore had the fire burning 
in the salon ; but Nancy was too thoroughly chilled 
for any salon fire to warm her. 

The cold she caught that night stuck to her chest. 
For some days afterwards she was very ill indeed. 
Monsieur Dupuis attended her, and brought his son 
once or twice. Monsieur Henri. Nancy got up again, 
and was, so to say, herself once more ; but she did not 
get up her strength. 

She would lie on the sofa in the salon those August 
days, which were very hot ones, too languid to get off 
it. Friends would call in to see her ; Major and Mrs. 
Smith, the Miss Bosanquets, the Lamberts, and so on. 
Madame Carimon was often there. They would ask 
her why she did not " make an effort " and sit up and 
occupy herself with a book or a bit of work, or go out 
a little ; and Nancy's answer was nearly always the 
same — she would do all that when the weather was 
somewhat cooler. Charley Palliser was quite a con- 
stant visitor. An English damsel, who was casting a 
covetous eye to Charles, though she might have spared 
herself the pains, took a fit of jealousy and said one 
might think sick Nancy Fennel was his sweetheart, 
going there so often. Charley rarely went empty- 
handed either. Now it would be half-a-dozen 
nectarines in their red-ripe loveliness, now some 
choice peaches, then a bunch of hot-house grapes, 

Johnny Ludlow.— V. 12 



178 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

''purple and gushing/' and again an amusing novel 
just out in England. 

'' Mary, she is surely dying ! '' 

The sad exclamation came from Stella Featherston. 
She and Madame Carimon, going in to take tea at the 
Petite Maison Rouge, had been sent by its mistress to 
her chamber above to take off their bonnets. The 
words had broken from Stella the moment they were 
alone. 

'' Sometimes I fear it mj^self," replied Madame 
Carimon. '^ She certainly grows weaker instead of 
stronger " 

'' Does any doctor attend her ? "^ 

"Monsieur Dupuis; a man of long experience, kind 
and clever. I was talking to him the other day, and 
he as good as said his skill and care seemed to avail 
nothing : were wasted on her." 

" Is it consumption ? " 

" I think not. She caught a dreadful cold about a 
month ago through being out in a night fog, thinly 
clad ; and there's no doubt it left mischief behind ; 
but it seems to me that she is wasting away with 
inward fever." 

" I should get George to run over to see her, if I 
were you, Mary," remarked Stella. " French doctors 
are very clever, I believe, especially as surgeons ; " 
but for an uncertain case like this they don't come 
up to the English. And George knows her consti- 
tution/' 

They went down to the salon, Mary Carimon 
laughing a little at the remark. Stella Featherston 
had not been long enough in France to part with her 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 179 

native prejudices. The family with whom she lived 
in Paris had journeyed to Sainteville for a month for 
what they called '' les eaux/' and Stella accompanied 
them. They were in lodgings on the port. 

Mrs. Fennel seemed more like her old self that 
evening than she had been for some time past. The 
unexpected presence of her companion of early days 
changed the tone of her mind and raised her spirits. 
Stella exerted all her mirth, talked of their doings in 
the past, told of Buttermead's doings in the present. 
Nancy was quite gay. 

'' Do you ever sing now, Stella ? " she suddenly 
asked. 

" Why, no," laughed Stella, " unless I am quite 
alone. Who would care to hear old ditties sung 
without music ? " 

" I should. Oh, Stella, sing me a few ! " urged 
the invalid, her tone quite imploring. ^'It would 
bring the dear old days back to me." 

Stella Featherston had a most melodious voice, but 
she did not play. It was not unusual in those days 
for girls to sing without any accompaniment, as Stella 
had for the most part done. 

*' Have you forgotten your Scotch songs, Stella ? " 
asked Mary Carimon. 

''Not I; I like them best of all," replied Miss 
Featherston. And without more ado she broke into 
" Ye banks and braes." 

It was followed by '' The Banks of Allan Water," 
and others. Flore stole to the parlour -door, and 
thought she had never heard so sweet a singer. Last 
of all, Stella began a quaint song that was more of a 
chant than anything else^ low and subdued : 



180 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

** Woe's me, for ray heart is brcaldn% 

I think on my brither sma', 
And on my sister greetin'. 

When I cam' from home awa*. 
And Oj how my mither sobbit, 

As she took from me her hand, 
When I left the door of our old houso 

To come to this stranger land. 

*' There's nae place like our ain liomo, 

O, I would that I were there! 
There's nae home like our ain Lome 

To be met w4' onywhere. 
And O, that I were back again 

To our farm and fields sae green, 
And heard the tongues of our ain folk, 

And was what I hae been ! " 

A feeling of despair ran through the whole words ; 
and the tears were running down Ann Fennel's hectic 
cheeks as the melody died away in a plaintive silence. 

"It is what I shall never see again, Stella/' she 
murmured — '' the green fields of our home ; or hear 
the tongues of all the dear ones there. In my dreams, 
sometimes, I am at Selby Court, light-hearted and 
happy, as I was before I left it for this 'stranger 
land.' Woe's me, also, Stella ! " 

And now I come into the story — I, Johnny Ludlow. 
For what I have told of it hitherto has not been from 
any personal knowledge of mine, but from diaries, and 
from what Mary Carimon related to me, and from 
Featherston. It may be regarded as singular that I 
should have been, so to say, present at its ending, but 
that I was there is as true as anything I ever wrote. 
The story itself is true in all its chief facts ; I have 
already said that ; and it is true that I saw the close 
of it. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 181 



XVIII 



To say that George Featherston, Doctor-in-ordinary 
at Buttermead, felt as if lie were standing on his head 
instead of his heels, would not in the least express his 
mental condition as he stood in his surgery that 
September afternoon and read a letter, just delivered, 
from his sister, Madame Carimon. 

" Wants me to go to Sainteville to see Ann Preen ; 
thinks she will die if I refuse, for the French doctors 
can do nothing for her!" commented Featherston, 
staring at the letter in intense perplexity, and then 
looking oflF it to stare at me. 

I wonder whether anything in this world happens 
by chance ? In the days and years that have gone by 
since, I sometimes ask myself whether that did : that 
I should be at that particular moment in Featherston's 
surgery. Squire Todhetley was staying with Sir John 
Whitney for partridge shooting. He had taken me 
with him, Tod being in Gloucestershire ; and on this 
Friday afternoon I had run in to say " How-d ye-do " 
to Featherston. 

" Sainteville ! '' repeated he, quite xmable to collect 
his senses. *' Why, I must cross the water to get 
there ! " 

I laughed. " Did you think Sainteville would cross 
to you, sir ? " 

"Bless me ! just listen to this," he went on, reading 
parts of the letter aloud for my benefit. " ' It is a 
dreadful story, George ; I dare not enter into details 
here. But I may tell you this much : that she is 
dying of fright as much as of fever— or whatever it 



182 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

may be that ails her physically. I am sure it is not 
consumption, though some of the people here think it 
is. It is fright and superstition. She lives in the 
belief that the house is haunted : that Lavinia's ghost 
walks in it." 

"Now what on earth can Mary mean by that?'' 
demanded the doctor, looking off to ask me. '' Ann 
Preen's wits must have left her. And Mary's too, to 
repeat so nonsensical a thing." 

Turning to the next page of the letter, Featherston 
read on. 

" ' To see her dying by inches before my eyes, and 
not make any attempt to save her, is what I cannot 
reconcile myself to, George. I should have it on my 
conscience afterwards. I think there is this one 
chance for her: that you, who have attended her 
before and must know her constitution, would see her 
now. You might be able to suggest some remedy or 
mode of treatment which would restore her. It might 
even be that the sight of a home face, of her old home 
doctor, would do for her what the strange doctors here 
cannot do. No one knows better than you how 
marvellously in illness the mind influences the body." 

''True enough," broke off Featherston. ''But it 
seems to me there must be something mysterious 
about the sickness." He read on again. 

" ' Stella, who is here, was the first to suggest your 
seeing her, but it was already exercising my thoughts. 
Do come, George ! the sooner the better. I and Jules 
will be delighted to have you with us.' " 

Featherston slowly folded up the letter. " What do 
you think of all this, Johnny Ludlow ? Curious, is it 
not?" 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 183 

" Very. Especially that hint about the house being 
haunted by the dead-and-gone Miss Preen.'' 

" I have never heard clearly what it was Lavinia 
Preen died of/' observed Featherston, leaving, doctor- 
like, the supernatural for the practical. '^ Except that 
she was seized with some sort of illness one day and 
died the next." 

" But that's no reason why her ghost should walk. 
Is it ? " 

"Nancy's imagination," spoke Featherston slight- 
ingly. '' She was always foolish and fanciful." 

" Shall you go to Sainteville, Mr. Featherston ? " 

He gave his head a slow, dubious shake, but did not 
speak. 

" Don't I wish such a chance were offered to me ! " 

Featherston sat down on a high stool, which stood 
before the phj^sic shelves, to revolve the momentous 
question. And by the time he took over it, he seemed 
to find it a diiSicult task. 

'' One hardly likes to refuse the request, put as Mary 
writes it," remarked he presently. '' Yet I don't see 
how I can go all the way over there ; or how I could 
leave my patients here. What a temper some of them 
would be in ! " 

"They wouldn't die of it. It would be a rare 
holiday for you. Set you up in health for a year to 
come." 

" I've not had a holiday since that time at Pump- 
water," he rejoined dreamily ; '' when I went over for 
a day or two to see poor John Whitney. You 
remember it, Johnny ; you were there." 

" Ay, I remember it." 

*' Not that this is a question of a holiday for me or 



184 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

no holiday, and I wonder you should put it so, 
Johnny Ludlow; it turns upon Ann Preen. Ann 
Fennel, that's to say. If I thought I could do her 
any good, and those French doctors can't, why, I 
suppose I ought to make an effort to go." 

"To be sure. Make one also to take me with 
you!" 

'' I dare say ! " laughed Featherston. " What would 
the Squire say to that ? " 

" Bluster a bit, and then see it was the very thing 
for me, and ask what the cost would be. Mr. Feather- 
ston, I shall be ready to start when you are. Please 
let me go ! " 

Of course I said this half in jest. But it turned 
out to be earnest. Whether Featherston feared he 
might get lost if he crossed the sea alone, I can't say ; 
but he said I might put the question to the Squire if 
I liked, and he would see him later and second it. 

Featherston did another thing. He carried Mary 
Carimon's letter that evening to Selby Court. Colonel 
Selby was staying with his brother for a week's 
shooting. Mr. Selby, a nervous valetudinarian, would 
not have gone out with a gun if bribed to it, but he 
invited his friends to do so. They had just finished 
dinner when Featherston arrived; the two brothers, 
and a short, dark, younger man with a rather keen 
but good-natured face and kindly dark eyes. He was 
introduced as Mr. David Preen, and turned out to be 
a cousin, more or less removed, of all the Preens and 
all the Selbys you have ever heard of, dead or living. 

Featherston imparted his news to them, and showed 
his sister s letter. It was pronounced to be a very 
curious letter, and was read over more than once. 



FEATHEESTON'S STORY. 185 

Colonel Selby next told them what he knew and 
what he thought of Edwin Fennel : how he had per- 
sistently schemed to get the quarterly money of the 
two ladies into his own covetous hands, and what a 
shady sort of individual he was believed to be. Mr. 
Selby, nervous at the best of times, let alone the 
worst, became painfully impressed : he seemed to fear 
poor Nancy was altogether in a hornet's nest, and gave 
an impulsive opinion that some one of the family 
ought to go over with Featherston to look into things. 

" Lavinia can't have been murdered, can she ? " cried 
he, his thoughts altogether confused ; " murdered by 
that man for her share of the money ? Why else 
should her ghost come back ? " 

"Don't make us laugh, Paul," said the colonel to 
his brother. "Ghosts are all moonshine. There are 
no such things." 

" I can tell you that there are, William," returned 
the elder. " Though mercifully the power to see them 
is accorded to very few mortals on earth. Can you 
go with Mr. Featherston to look into this strange 
business, William ? " 

" No," replied the colonel, " I could not possibly 
spare the time. Neither should I care to do it. Any 
inquiry of that kind would be quite out of my line." 

" I will go," quietly spoke David Preen. 

" Do so, David," said Mr. Selby eagerly. " It shall 
cost you nothing, you know." By which little speech, 
Featherston gathered that Mr. David Preen was not 
more overdone with riches than were many of the 
other Preens. 

"Look into it well, David. See the doctor who 
attended Lavinia ; see all and every one able to throw 



186 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

any light upon her death/' urged Mr. Selby. '' As to 
Ann, she was lamentably, foolishly blamable to marry 
as she did, but she must not be left at the villain's 
mercy now things have come to this pass." 

To which Mr. David Preen nodded an emphatic 
assent. 

The Squire gave in at last. Not to my pleading — 
he accused me of having lost my head only to think 
of it — but to Featherston. And when the following 
week was wearing away, the exigencies of Feather- 
ston's patients not releasing him sooner, we started 
for Sainteville ; he, I, and David Preen. Getting in 
at ten at night after a boisterous passage, Featherston 
took up his quarters at Monsieur Carimon's, we ours 
at the Hotel des Princes. 

She looked very ill. Ill and changed. I had seen 
Ann Preen at Buttermead when she lived there, but 
the Ann Preen (or Fennel) I saw now was not much 
like her. The once bright face was drawn and fallen 
in, and very nearly as long and grey as Featherston's. 
Apart from that, a timid, shrinking look sat upon it, 
as though she feared some terror lay very near to her. 

The sick have to be studied, especially when suffer- 
ing from whims and fancies. So they invented a 
little fable to Mrs. Fennel — that Featherston and 
David Preen were taking an excursion together for 
their recreation, and the doctor had extended it as far 
as Sainteville to see his sister Mary ; never allowing 
her to think that it was to see her. I was with them, 
but I went for nobody — and in truth that's all I was 
in the matter. 

It was the forenoon of the day after we arrived. 
David Preen had gone in first, her kinsman and 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 187 

distant cousin, to the Petite Maison Kouge, paving 
the way, as it were, for Featherston. We went in 
presently. Mrs. Fennel sat in a large armchair by 
the salon fire, wrapped in a grey shawl; she was 
always cold now, she told us; David Preen sat on 
the sofa opposite, talking pleasantly of home news. 
Featherston joined him on the sofa, and I sat down 
near the table. 

Oh, she was glad to see us ! Glad to see us all. 
Ours were home faces, you see. She held my hands 
in hers, and the tears ran down her face, betraying 
her state of weakness. 

'' You have not been very well of late, Mary tells 
me," Featherston said to her in a break of the con- 
versation. '' What has been the matter ? " 

'' I — it came on from a bad cold I caught,'' she 
answered with some hesitation. " And there was all 
the trouble about Lavinia's death. I could not get 
over the grief" 

" Well, I must say you don't look very robust," 
returned Featherston, in a half-joking tone. " I think 
I had better take you in hand whilst I am here, and 
set you up." 

"I do not think you can set me up; I do not 
suppose any one can," she replied, shaking back her 
curls, which fell on each side of her face in ringlets, 
as of old. 

Featherston smiled cheerily. "Ill try," said he. 
" Some of my patients say the same when I am first 
called in to them; but they change their tone after 
I have brought back their roses. So will you ; never 
fear. I'll come in this afternoon and have a pro- 
fessional chat with you." 



188 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

That settled, they went on with Buttermead again ; 
David Preen giving scraps and revelations of the Preen 
and Selby families ; Featherston telling choice items 
of the rural public in general. Mrs. Fenners spirits 
went up to animation. 

'' Shall you be able to do anything for her, sir ? " 
I asked the doctor as we came away and went through 
the entry to the Place Ronde. 

'' I cannot tell/' he answered gravely. " She has a 
look on her face that I do not like to see there." 

Betrayed into confidence, I suppose, by the presence 
of the old friend of her girlhood, Ann Fennel related 
everything to Mr. Featherston that afternoon, as they 
sat on the sofa side by side, her hand occasionally 
held soothingly in his own. He assured her plainly 
that what she was chiefly suffering from was a dis- 
order of the nerves, and that she must state to him 
explicitly the circumstances which brought it on before 
he could decide how to treat her for it. 

Nancy obeyed him. She yearned to get well, 
though a latent impression lay within her that she 
should not do so. She told him the particulars of 
Lavinia's unexpected death just when on the point of 
leaving Sainteville ; and she went on to declare, 
glancing over her shoulders with frightened eyes, that 
she (Lavinia) had several times since then appeared 
in the house. 

" What did Lavinia die of ? " inquired the doctor at 
this juncture. 

^^We could not tell," answered Mrs. Fennel. "It 
puzzled us. At first Monsieur Dupuis thought it must 
be inflammation brought on by a chill ; but Monsieur 
Podevin quite put that opinion aside, saying it was 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 189 

nothing of the sort. He is a younger and more 
energetic practitioner than Monsieur Dupuis." 

"Was it never suggested that she might, in one 
way or another, have taken something which poisoned 
her ? " 

" Why, yes, it Avas ; I believe Monsieur Dupuis did 
think so — I am sure Monsieur Podevin did. But it 
was impossible it could have been the case, you see, 
because Lavinia touched nothing either of the daj^s 
that we did not also partake of.' 

''There ought to have been an examination after 
death. You objected to that, I fancy," continued 
Featherston, who had talked a little with Madame 
Carimon. 

" True — I did ; and I have been sorry for it since," 
sighed Ann Fennel. " It was through what my 
husband said to me that I objected. Edwin thought 
it would be distasteful to me. He did not like the 
idea of it either. Being dead, he held that she should 
be left in reverence." 

Featherston coughed. She was evidently innocent 
as any lamb of suspicion against him. 

"And now," went on Mr. Featherston, "^just tell me 
what you mean by saying you see your sister about 
the house." 

" We do see her," said Nancy. 

" Nonsense ! You don't. It is all fancy. When the 
nerves are unstrung, as yours are, they play us all 
sorts of tricks. Why, I knew a man once who took 
tip a notion that he walked upon his head, and he 
came to me to be cured ! " 

''But it is seeing Lavinia's apparition, and the 
constant fear of seeing it which lies upon me> that has 



190 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

brought on this nervousness," pleaded Nancy. " It is 
to my husband, when he is here, that she chiefly 
appears; nothing but that is keeping him away. I 
have seen her only three or four times." 

She spoke quietly and simply, evidently grounded 
in the belief. Mr. Featherston wondered how he was 
to deal with this : and perhaps he was not himself so 
much of a sceptic in the supernatural as he thought 
fit to pretend. Nancy continued : 

" It was to my husband she appeared first. Exactly 
a week after her death. No ; a week after the evening- 
she was first taken ill. He was coming upstairs to 
bed — I had gone on — when he suddenly fancied that 
some one was following him, though only he and I 
were in the house. Turning quickly round, he saw 
Lavinia. That was the first time ; and I assure you 
I thought he would have died of it. Never before 
had I witnessed such mortal terror in man." 

" Did he tell you he had seen her ? " 

''No; never. I could not imagine what brought 
on these curious attacks of fright, for he had others. 
He put it upon his health. It was only when I saw 
Lavinia myself after he went to England that I knew. 
I knew then what it must have been." 

Mr. Featherston was silent. 

'' She always appears in the same dress," continued 
Nancy ; " a silver-grey silk that she wore at church 
that Sunday. It was the last gown she ever put on : 
we took it off* her when she was first seized with the 
pain. And in her face there is always a sad, beseech- 
ing aspect, as if she wanted something and were 
imploring us to get it for her. Indeed we see her, 
Mr. Feathei:3ton." 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 191 

'' Ah, well," he said, perceiving it was not from this 
quarter that light could be thrown on the suspicious 
darkness of the past, ''let us talk of yourself. You 
are to obey my orders in all respects. Mistress Nancy. 
We will soon have you flourishing again." 

Brave words. Perhaps the doctor half believed in 
them himself But he and they received a check all 
too soon. 

That same evening, after David Preen had left — 

for he went in to spend an hour at the little red house 

to gossip about the folks at home — Nancy was taken 

with a fit of shivering. Flore hastily mixed her a 

glass of hot wine-and- water, and then went upstairs 

to light a fire in the bedroom, thinking her mistress 

would be the better for it. Nancy, w^ho could hear 

Flore moving about overhead, suddenly remembered 

something that she wanted brought down. Rising 

from her chair, she went to the door of the salon, 

intending to call out. A sort of side light, dim and 

indistinct, fell upon her as she stood in the recess at 

the foot of the stairs from the lamp in the salon and 

from the stove in the kitchen, for both doors were 

open. 

'' Flore," she was beginning, " will you bring down 
J) 
my 

And there Ann Fennel's words ended. With a wild 
cry, which reached the ears of Flore and nearly startled 
her into fits, Mrs. Fennel collapsed. The servant came 
dashing downstairs, expecting to hear that the ghost 
had appeared again, 

It was not that. Her mistress was looking wild 
and puzzled; and when she recovered herself sufii- 
ciently to speak, declared that she had been startled 



192 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

by some animal. Either a cat or a rabbit, she could 
not tell which, the glimpse she caught of it was so 
brief and slight; it had run against her legs as she 
was calling out. 

Flore did not know what to make of this. She 
looked about, but neither cat nor rabbit was to be seen ; 
and she told her mistress it could have been nothing 
but fancy. Mrs. Fennel thought she knew better. 

'' Why, I felt it and saw it,'' she said. '' It came 
right against me and ran over my feet. It seemed to 
be making for the passage, as if it wanted to get out 
by the front-door." 

We were gathered together in the salon of the Petite 
Maison Rouge the following morning, partly by acci- 
dent. Ann Fennel, exceedingly weak and nervous, 
lay in bed. Featherston and Monsieur Dupuis were 
both upstairs. She put down her illness to the fright, 
which she talked of to them freely. They did not 
assure her it was only " nerves " — to what purpose ? I 
waited in the salon with David Preen, and just as the 
doctors came down Madame Carimon came in. 

David Preen seized upon the opportunity. Fearing 
that one so favourable mio^ht not ao^ain occur, unless 
formally planned, he opened the ball. Drawing his 
chair to the table, next to that of Madame Carimon, 
the two doctors sitting opposite, David Preen avowed, 
with straightforward candour, that he, with some 
other relatives, held a sort of doubt as to whether it 
might not have been something Miss Lavinia Preen 
took which caused her death; and he begged Monsieur 
Dupuis to say if any such doubt had crossed his own 
mind at the time. 



FEATHERSTON'S STOEY. 193 

The fair-faced little medecin shook his head at this 
appeal, as much as to say he thought that the subject 
was a puzzling one. Naturally the doubt had crossed 
him, and very strongly, he answered ; but the difficulty 
in assuming that view of the matter lay in her having 
partaken solely of the food which the rest of the 
household had partaken of; that and nothing else. 
His confrere, Monsieur Podevin, held a very conclusive 
opinion — that she had died of poison. 

David Preen drew towards him a writing-case which 
lay on the table, took a sheet of paper from it, and a 
pencil from his pocket. "Let us go over the facts 
quietly," said he ; '^ it may be we shall arrive at some 
decision." 

So they went over the facts, the chief speakers 
being Madame Carimon and Flore, who was called in. 
David Preen dotted down from time to time something 
which I suppose particularly impressed him. 

Miss Preen was in perfectly good health up to that 
Sunday — the first after Easter. On the following 
Tuesday she was about to quit Sainteville for 
Boulogne, her home at the Petite Maison Eouge 
having become intolerable to her through the residence 
in it of Captain Fennel. 

'' Pardon me if I state here something which is not 
positively in the line of facts ; rather, perhaps, in that 
of imagination," said Madame Carimon, looking up. 
" Lavinia had gradually acquired a most painful dread 
of Captain Fennel. She had dreams which she could 
only believe came to warn her against him, in which 
he appeared to be threatening her with some evil that 
she could not escape from. Once or twice — and this 
I cannot in any way account for — she saw him in the 

Johnny Ludlow — -V. 13 



194 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

house when he was not in it, not even at Sainte- 
ville— " 

'' What ! saw his apparition ? " cried Featherston. 
'' When the man was living ! Come, come, Mary, that 
is going too far ! " 

'' Quelle drole d'idee ! " exclaimed the little doctor. 

" He appeared to her twice, she told me," continued 
Mary Carimou. '' She had been spending the evening 
out each time ; had come into the house, this house, 
closinof the street-door behind her. When she lio;hted 
a candle at the slab, she saw him standing just inside 
the door, gazing at her with the same dreadful aspect 
that she saw afterwards in her dreams. You may 
laugh, George; Monsieur Dupuis, I think you are 
already laughing; but I fully believe that she saw 
what she said she did, and dreamt what she did 
dream." 

" But it could not have been the man's apparition 
when he was not dead ; and it could not have been 
the man himself when he was not at Sainteville," con- 
tended Featherston. 

"And I believe that it all meant one of those 
mysterious warnings which are vouchsafed us from 
our spiritual guardians in the unseen world,'' added 
Madame Carimon, independently pursuing her argu- 
ment. " And that it came to Lavinia to warn her to 
escape from this evil house." 

'' And she did not do it," remarked David Preen. 
" She was not quick enough. Well, let us go on." 

"As Lavinia came out of church, Charles Palliser 
ran after her to ask her to go home to dine with him 
and his aunt," resumed Madame Carimon. "If she 
had only accepted it ! The dinner here was a very 



FEATHERSTON'S STOEY. 195 

simple one, and they all partook of it, including 
Flore " 

" And it was Flore who cooked and served it ? " 
interrupted David Preen, looking at her. 

" Mais oui, monsieur. The tart excepted ; that was 
frangipane, and did come from the pastrj^cook," added 
Flore, plunging into English. '' Then I had my own 
dinner, and I had of every dish ; and I drank of the 
wine. Miss Lavinia would give me a glass of wine 
on the Sunday, and she poured it out for me her- 
self that day from the bottle of Bordeaux on their 
own table. Nothing was the matter with any of all 
that. The one thing I did not have of was the 
liqueur." 

" What liqueur was that ? " 

" It was chartreuse, I believe," said Flore. " While 
I was busy removing the dinner articles from the 
salon, monsieur was busy at his cupboard outside 
there, where he kept his bottles. He came into the 
kitchen just as I had sat down to eat, and asked me 
for three liqueur glasses, which I gave to him on a 
plate. I heard him pour the liqueur into them, and 
he carried them to the ladies." 

Mr. David Preen wrote something down here. 

" After that the captain went out to walk, saying 
he would see the English boat enter ; and when I had 
finished washing up I carried the tea-tray to the 
salon-table and went home. Miss Lavinia was quite 
well then ; she sat in her belle robe of grey silk talk- 
ing with her sister. Then, when I was giving my 
boy Dion his collation, a tartine and a cooked apple, I 
was fetched back here, and found the poor lady fight- 
ing with pain for her life." 



196 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' Did you wash those liqueur glasses ? " asked Mr. 
Featherston. 

" But yes, sir. I had taken them away when I 
carried in the tea-things, and washed them at once, 
and put them^on the shelf in their places." 

'' You see," observed Monsieur Dupuis, " the ill-fated 
lady appears to have taken nothing that the others 
did not take also. I applied my remedies when I was 
called to her, and the following day she had, as I 
believed, recovered from the attack ; nothing but the 
exhaustion left by the agony was remaining. But 
that night she was again seized, and I was again 
fetched to her. The attack was even more violent 
than the first one. I made a request for another 
doctor, and Monsieur Podevin was brought. He at 
once set aside my suggestion of inflammation from a 
chill, and said it looked to him more like a case of 
poison." 

'' She had had nothing but slops all day, messieurs, 
which I made and carried to her," put in Flore; 
"and when I left, at night, she was, as Monsieur le 
Medecin put it, ' all well to look at.' " 

" Flore did not make the arrowroot which she took 
later," said Mary Carimon, taking up the narrative. 
" When Lavinia went up to bed, towards nine o'clock, 
Mrs. Fennel made her a cup of arrowroot in the 
kitchen " 

"And a cup for herself at the same time, as I was 
informed, madame," spoke the little doctor. 

"Oh yes, I know that. Monsieur Dupuis. Mrs. 
Fennel brought her sister's arrowroot, when it was 
ready, into this room, asking her husband whether 
she might venture to put a little brandy into it. He 



FEATHEHSTON'S STORY. 197 

sent her to ask the question of Lavinia, bidding her 
leave the arrowroot on the table here. She came 
down for it, saying Lavinia declined the brandy, 
carried it up to her and saw her take it. Mrs. Fennel 
wished her good-night and came down for her own 
portion, which she had left in the kitchen. Before 
eleven o'clock, when they were going to bed, cries 
were heard in Lavinia's room; she was seized with 
the second attack, and — and died in it." 

" This second attack was so violent, so unmanage- 
able," said Monsieur Dupuis, as Mary Carimon's voice 
faltered into silence, ^'that I feel convinced I could 
not have saved her had I been present when it came 
on. I hear that Captain Fennel says he rang several 
times at my door before he could arouse me. Such 
v/as not the case. I am a very light sleeper, waking, 
from habit, at the slightest sound. But in this case I 
had not had time to fall asleep when I fancied I heard 
the bell sound very faintly. I thought I must be 
mistaken, as the bell is a loud bell, and rings easily ; 
and people who ring me up at night generally ring 
pretty sharply. I lay listening, and some time after- 
wards, not immediately, it did ring. I opened my 
window, saw Captain Fennel outside, and was dressed 
and with him in two minutes." 

'' That sounds as if he did not want you to go to 
her too quickly, monsieur,'' observed Mr. Featherston, 
which went, as the French have it, without saying. 
'' And I have heard of another suspicious fact : that 
he put his wife up to stop the medical examination 
after death." ^ 

" It amounts to this," spoke David Preen, '' according 
to our judgment, if anything wrong was administered 



198 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

to her, it was given in the glass of liqueur on the 
Sunday afternoon, and in the cup of arrowroot on the 
Monday evening. They were the only things afford- 
ing an opportunity of being tampered with ; and in 
each case the pain came on about two hours after- 
wards." 

Grave suspicion, as I am sure they all felt it to be. 
But not enough, as Featherston remarked, to accuse a 
man of murder. There was no proof to be brought 
forward, especially now that months had elapsed. 

" What became of the cup which had contained the 
arrowroot ? '' inquired David Preen, looking at Flore. 
" Was it left in the bedroom ? " 

'' That cup, sir, I found in a bowl of water in the 
kitchen, and also the other one which had been used. 
The two were together in the wooden bowl. I sup- 
posed Madame Fennel had put them there; but she 
said she had not." 

" Ah ! " exclaimed David Preen, drawing a deep 
breath. 

He had come over to look into this suspicious 
matter; but, as it seemed, nothing could be done. To 
stir in it, and fail, would be worse than letting it 
alone. 

''Look you," said David Preen, as he put up his 
note-book. "If it be true that Lavinia cannot rest 
now she's dead, but shows herself here in the house, 
I regard it as a pretty sure proof that she was sent 
out of the world unjustly. But " 

" Then you hold the belief that spirits revisit the 
earth, monsieur," interrupted Monsieur Dupuis, '' and 
that revenants are to be seen ? " 

'' I do, sir," replied David. " We Preens see them. 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 199 

But I cannot stir in this matter, I was about to say, 
and the man must be left to his conscience." 

And so the conference broke up. 

The thing which lay chiefly on hand now was to 
try to bring health back to Ann Fennel. It was 
thought well to take her out of the house for a short 
time, as she had such fancies about it ; so Featherston 
gave up his room at Madame Carimon s, and Ann was 
invited to move into it, whilst he joined us at the 
hotel. I thought her very ill, as we all did. But 
after her removal there, she recovered her spirits 
wonderfully, and went out for short walks and 
laughed and chatted : and when Featherston and 
David Preen took the boat back to return home, she 
went to the port to see them steam off. 

" Will it be all right with her ? " was the last 
question Mary Carimon whispered to her brother. 

'' I'm afraid noty' he answered. " A little time will 
show one way or the other. Depends somewhat, per- 
haps, upon how that husband of hers allows things to 
go on. I have done what I can, Mary ; I could not 
do more." 

! Does the reader notice that I did not include myself 
in those who steamed off? For I did not go. Good, 
genial little Jules Carimon, who was pleased to say 
he had always liked me much at school, invited me to 
make a stay at his house, if I did not mind putting 
up with a small bedroom in the mansarde. I did not 
mind it at all ; it was large enough for me. Nancy 
was delighted. We had quite a gay time of it ; and 
I made the acquaintance of Major and Mrs. Smith, 
the Misses Bosanquet and Charley Palliser, who was 
shortly to quit Sainteville. Charley's impression of 



200 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Mrs. Fennel was that she would quit it before lie did, 
but in a different manner. 

One fine afternoon, when we were coming off the 
pier, Nancy was walking between me and Mary 
Carimon, for she needed the support of two arms if 
she went far — yes, she was as weak as that — some 
one called out that the London boat was coming in. 
Turning round, we saw her gliding smoothly up the 
harbour. No one in these Anglo-French towns 
willingly misses that sight, and we drew up on the 
quay to watch the passengers land. There were only 
eight or ten of them. 

Suddenly Nancy gave a great cry, which bore a 
sound both of fear and of gladness — " Oh, there's 
Edwin ! " — and the next moment began to shake her 
pocket-handkerchief frantically. 

A thin, grey, w^easel of a man, whose face I did not 
like, came stalking up the ladder. Yes, it was the 
ex-captain, Edwin Fennel. 

" He has not come for her sake ; he has come to 
grab the quarter's money," spoke Mary, quite savagely, 
in my ear. No doubt. It would be due the end of 
September, which was at hand. 

The captain was elaborately polite ; quite effusive 
in his greeting to us. Nancy left us and took his 
arm. At the turning Avhere we had to branch off to 
the Rue Pomme Quite, she halted to say good-bye. 

'' But you are coming back to ns, are you not ? " 
cried Madame Cariraon to her. 

'^ Oh, I could not let Edwin go home alone," said 
she. '^ Nobody's there but Flore, you know." 

So she went back there and then to the Petite 
Maison Rouge, and never came out of it again. I 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 201 

think he was kind to her, that man. He had some- 
times a scared look upon his face, and I guessed he 
had been seeing sights. The man would have given 
his head to be off again ; to remain in that haunted 
house must have been to him a most intolerable 
penance ; but he had some regard (policy dictating it) 
for public opinion, and could not well run away from 
his wife in her failing^ health. 

It w^as curious how quickly Nancy declined. From 
the very afternoon she entered the house it seemed to 
begin. He had grabbed the money, as Mary Carimon 
called it, and brought her nice and nourishing things ; 
but nothing availed. And a fine way he must have 
been in, to see that; for with his wife's death the 
money would go away from him for evermore. 

Monsieur Dupuis, sometimes Monsieur Henry Dupuis, 
saw her daily ; and Captain Fennel hastily called in 
ano er doctor who had the reputation of being the 
besi in the town, next to Monsieur Podevin ; one 
Monsieur Lamirand. Mary Carimon spent half her 
time there; I went in most days. It could not be 
said that she had any special complaint, but she was 
too weak to live. 

In less than three weeks it was all over. The end, 
when it came, was quite sudden. For a day or two 
she had seemed so much better that we told her she 
had taken a turn at last. On the Thursday evening, 
quite late — it was between eight and nine o'clock — 
Madame Carimon asked me to run there with some 
jelly which she had made, and which was only then 
ready. When I arrived, Flore said she was sure her 
mistress would like me to go up to her room ; she w^as 
alone, monsieur having stepped out. 



202 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Nancy, wrapped in a warm dressing-gown, sat by 
the fire in an easy-chair and a great shawl. Her fair 
curls were all put back under a small lace cap, which 
was tied at the chin with grey ribbon ; her pretty blue 
eyes were bright. I told her what I had come for, 
and took the chair in front of her. 

"You look so well this evening, Nancy/' I said 
heartily — for I had learnt to call her so at Madame 
Carimon's, as they did. " We shall have you getting 
well now all one way." 

" It is the spurt of the candle before going out," she 
quietly answered. '' I have not the least pain left 
anywhere — but it is only that." 

" You should not say or think so." 

'' But I know it ; I cannot mistake my own feelings. 
Fancy any one, reduced as I am, getting well 
again ! " 

I am a bad one to keep up " make-believes." Truth 
to say, I felt as sure of it as she did. 

" And it will not be very long first. Johnny," she 
went on, in a half- whisper, '' I saw Lavinia to-day." 

I looked at her, but made no reply. 

"I have never seen her since I came back here. 
Edwin has, though ; I am sure of it. This afternoon 
at dusk I woke up out of a doze, for getting up to sit 
here quite exhausts me, and I was moving forward to 
touch the hand-bell on the table there, to let Flore 
know I was ready for my tea, when I saw Lavinia. 
She was standing over there, just in the firelight. I 
thought she seemed to be holding out her hand to me, 
as if inviting me to go to her, and on her face there 
was the sweetest smile of welcome ; sweeter than could 
be seen on any face in life. All the sad, mournful, 



FEATHERSTON'S STORY. 203 

beseeching look had left it. She stood there for about 
a minute, and then vanished." 

" Were you very much frightened ? '' 

" I had not a thought of fear, Johnny. It was the 
contrary. She looked radiantly happy ; and it some- 
how imparted happiness to me. I think — I think," 
added Nancy impressively, though with some hesita- 
tion, " that she came to let me know I am going to 
her. I believe I have seen her for the last time. The 
house has, also, I fancy ; she and I will shortly go out 
of it together." 

What could I answer to that ? 

" And so it is over at last," she murmured, more to 
herself than to me. '' Very nearly over. The distress 
and the doubt, the terror and the pain. I brought it 
all on ; you know that, Johnny Ludlow. I feel sure 
now that she has pardoned me. I humbly hope that 
God has." 

She caught up her breath with a long-drawn sigh. 

"And you will give my dear love to all the old 
friends in England, Johnny, beginning with Mr. 
Featherston ; he has been very kind to me ; you will 
see them again, but I shall not. Not in this life. But 
we shall be together in the Life which has no ending." 

At twelve o'clock that night Nancy Fennel died. 
At least, it was as near twelve as could be told. Just 
after that hour Flore went into the room, preparatory 
to sitting up with her, and found her dead — just 
expired, apparently — with a sweet smile on her face, 
and one hand stretched out as if in greeting. Perhaps 
Lavinia had come to greet her. 

We followed her to the grave on Saturday. Captain 



204 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Fennel walked next the cofBn — and I wondered how 
he liked it. I was close behind him with Monsieur 
Carimon. Charley Palliser came next with little 
Monsieur le Docteur Dupuis and Monsieur Gustave 
Sauvage. And we left Nancy in the cemetery, side 
by side with her sister. 

Captain Edwin Fennel disappeared. On the Sunday, 
when we English were looking for him in church, he 
did not come — his grief not allowing him, said some 
of the ladies. But an English clerk in the broker s 
office, hearing this, told another tale. Fennel had gone 
off by the boat which left the port for London the 
previous night at midnight. 

And he did not come back again. He had left 
sundry debts behind him, including that owing to 
Madame Veuve Sauvage. Monsieur Carimon, later, 
undertook the payment of tnese at the request of 
Colonel Selby. It was understood that Captain Edwin 
Fennel had emigrated to South America. If he had 
any conscience at all, it was to be hoped he carried it 
with him. He did not carry the money. The poor 
little income which he had schemed for, and perhaps 
worse, went back to the Selbys. 

And that is the story. It is a curious history, and 
painful in more ways than one. But I repeat that it 
is true. 



WATCHING ON ST. MARK'S EVE. 

Eastee-Day that year was nearly as late as it could 
be — the twenty-third of April. That brought St. 
Mark's Day (the twenty-fifth) on the Tuesday; and 
Easter Monday was St. Mark's Eve. 

There is a superstitious belief in our county, and in 
some others — more thought of in our old grannies' 
days than in these — that if you go to the churchyard 
on St. Mark's Eve and watch the gate, the shadows, 
or phantoms, of those fated to die that year, and 
destined there to be buried, will be seen to enter it. 

Easter Monday is a great holiday with us ; the 
greatest in all the year. Christmas-Day and Good 
Friday are looked upon more in a religious light ; but 
on Easter Monday servants and labourers think them- 
selves at liberty to take their swing. The first day of 
the wake is nothing to it. 

Now Squire Todhetley gave in to these holidays : 
they did not come often, he said. Our servants in the 
country are not a bit like yours in town ; yours want 
a day's holiday once a month, oftener sometimes, and 
strike if they don't get it ; ours have one or two in a 
year. On Easter Monday the work was got over by 
mid-day; there was no cooking, and the household 
could roam abroad at will. No ill had ever come of 
it ; none would have come of it this time, but for St. 
Mark's Eve falling on the day. 



20G JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Tod and I got home from school on the Thursday. 
It was a despicable old school, taking no heed of 
Passion Week. Other fellows from other schools could 
have a fortnight at Easter ; we but a week. Tod 
entered on a remonstrance with the pater this time; 
he had been planning it as we drove home, and 
thought he'd put it in a strongish point of view. 

"It is sinful, you know, sir; awfully so. Passion 
Week is Passion Week. We have no right to pass it 
at school at our desks." 

''Well, Joe, I dont quite see that," returned the 
pater, twisting his lip. *' Discipline and lessons are 
more in accordance with the season of Passion Week 
than kicking up your heels at large in all sorts of mis- 
chief ; and that's what you'd be at, you know, if you 
were at home. What's the matter with Johnny." 

"He has been ill for three days, with a cold or 
something," said Tod. '' Tell it for yourself, Johnny." 

I had no more to tell than that. For three or four 
days I had felt ill, feverish ; yesterday (Wednesday) 
had done no lessons. Mrs. Todhetley thought it was 
an attack of influenza. She sent me to bed, and called 
in the doctor, Mr. Duff*ham. 

I was better the next day — Good Friday. Old Duff 
— as Tod and I called him for short — came in while 
they were at church, and said I might get up. It 
was slow work, I told him, lying in bed for one's 
holidays. He was a wiry little man, with black hair ; 
good in the main, but pompous, and always carried 
a gold-headed cane. 

"Not to go out, you know," he said. ''You must 
promise that, Johnny." 

I promised readily. I only wanted to be down- 



WATCHING ON ST. MARK'S EYE. 207 

stairs with the rest. They returned home from 
church, saying they had promised to go over and take 
tea with the Sterlings ; Mrs. Todhetley looked grave 
at seeing me, and thought the doctor was wrong. At 
which I put on a gay air, like a fellow suddenly 
cured. 

But I could not eat any dinner. They had salt fish 
and cold boiled beef at two o'clock — our usual way 
of fasting on Good Friday. Not a morsel could I 
swallow, and Hannah brought me some mutton-broth. 

" Do you mind our leaving you, Johnny ? " Mrs. 
Todhetley said to me in her kind way — which Tod 
never believed in. " If you do — if you think you 
shall feel lonely. 111 stay at home." 

I answered that I should feel very jolly, not lonely 
at all; and so they started, going over in the large 
carriage, drawn by Bob and Blister. Mr. and Mrs. 
Todhetley, with Lena, in front. Tod and Hugh behind. 
Standing at the window to watch the start, I saw 
Roger Monk looking on from the side of the house. 

He was a small, white-faced chap of twenty or so, 
with a queer look in his eyes, and black sprouting 
whiskers. Looking full at the eyes, when you could 
get the chance, which was not very often, for they 
rarely looked at you, there was nothing wrong to be 
seen with them, and yet they gave a sinister cast to 
the face. Perhaps it was that they were too near 
together. Roger Monk was not one of our regular 
men ; for the matter of that, he was above the condi- 
tion ; but was temporarily filling the head-gardener s 
place, who was ill with rheumatism. Seeing me, he 
walked up to the window, and I opened it to speak to 
him. " Are you here still, Monk ? '' 



208 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' And likely to be, Mr. Ludlow, if it depends upon 
Jenkins's coming on again," was the answer. "Fine 
cattle, those that the governor has just driven off.'' 

He meant Bob and Blister, and they were fine ; but 
I did not like the tone, or the word " governor," as 
applied to Mr. Todhetley. '' I can't keep the window 
up," I said; "I'm not well." - 

"All right, sir; shut it. As for me, I must be 
about my work. There's enough to do with the 
gardens, one way or another ; and the responsibility 
lies on my shoulders." 

'' You must not work to-day, Monk. Squire Tod- 
hetley never allows it on Good Friday." 

He laughed pleasantly; as much as to say^ what 
Squire Todhetley allowed, or did not allow, was no 
concern of his; and went briskly away across the 
lawn. And not once, during the short interview, had 
his eyes met mine. 

Wasn't it dull that afternoon ! I took old Duff- 
ham's physic, and drank the tea Hannah brought me, 
and was hot, and restless, and sick. Never a soul to 
talk to ; never a book to read — my eyes and head 
ached too much for that ; never a voice to be heard. 
Most of the servants were out ; all of them, for what I 
knew, except Hannah ; and I was fit to die of weari- 
ness. At dusk I went up to the nursery. Hannah 
was not there. The fire was raked — if you under- 
stand what that means, though it is generally applied 
only to kitchen fires in our county — which proved 
that she was ofi* somewhere on a prolonged expedition. 
Even old Hannah's absence was a disappointment. I 
threw myself down on the faded sofa at the far end of 
the room, and, I suppose, went to sleep. 



WATCHING ON ST. MARK'S EVE. 209 

For when I became alive again to outward things, 
Hannah was seated in one chair at the fire, cracking 
up the coal ; Molly, the cook with the sharp tongue 
and red-brown eyes, in another. It was dark and 
late ; my head ached awfully, and I wished them and 
their clatter somewhere. They were talking of St. 
Mark's Eve, and its popular superstition. Molly was 
telling a tale of the past, the beginning of which I had 
not heard. 

'•'I can't believe it," exclaimed Hannah; *'I can't 
believe that the shadows come." 

" Did ye ever watch for 'em, woman ? " asked Molly, 
who had been born in the North. 

'' No," acknowledged Hannah. 

" Then how can ye speak of what ye don't know ? 
It is as true as that you and me be a-sitting here. 
Tvv^o foolish, sickly girls they was, both of 'em sweet 
upon the same young man. Leastways, he was sweet 
upon both of them, the deceiver, which comes to the 
same thing. My sister Becky was five-and-twenty 
that same year ; she had a constant pain and a cough, 
which some said was windpipe and some said was 
liver. The other was Mary Clarkson, who was subject 
to swimmings in the head and frightful dartings. 
Any way, they'd got no health to brag on, either of 
'em, and they were just eat up with jealousy, the one 
of the other. Tom Town, he knew this; and he 
played 'em off again' each other nicely, little thinking 
what his own punishment was to be." 

Hannah gently put the poker inside the bars to 
raise the coal, and some more light came out. Molly 
v^ent on. 

" Now, Hannah, you mustn't think bad of them two 

Joliuny Ludlow.— V, 14 



210 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

young women. They did not wish one another dead- 
far from it ; but each thought the other couldn't live. 
In natural course, if the one went off, poor thing, Tom 
Town, he would be left undivided for the other/' 

'' Was Tom Town handsome ? '' interrupted Hannah. 

''Well, middling for that. He was under-sized, not 
up to their shoulders, with big bushy red whiskers ; 
but he had a taking way with him. He was in a 
shop for himself, and doing well, so that more young 
women nor the two I am telling of would have said 
Yes to his asking. Becky, she thought Mary Clarkson 
couldn't live the year out; Mary, she told a friend 
that she was sure Becky wouldn't. And what should 
they do but go to watch the graveyard on St. Mark's 
Eve, to see the other's shadow pass ! " 

'' Together ? " 

" No ; but they met there. Awk'ard, wasn't it ? 
Calling up their wits, each of 'em, they pretended to 
have come out promiskous, just on the spree, not 
expecting to see nobody's shadow in particular. As 
they had come, they stopped; standing back again 
the hedge near the graveyard, holding on to each 
other's arms for company, and making belief not to 
be scared. Hannah, woman, I don't care to tell this. 
I've never told it many times." 

Molly's face had a hard, solemn look, in the fire's 
blaze, and Hannah suddenly drew her chair close to 
her. I could have laughed out loud. 

"Just as the clock struck — ten, I think it was," 
went on Molly, in a half- whisper, " there was a faint 
rustle heard, like a flutter in the air, and somebody 
came along the road. At first the women's eyes were 
dazed, and they didn't see distinct, but as the gate 



V/ATCHING ON ST, MARK'S EVE. 211 

openea to let him in, he turned his face, and they saw 
it was Tom Town. Both the girls thought it was 
himself, Hannah ; and they held their breath and kept 
quite still, hoping he'd not notice them, for they'd 
have felt ashamed to be caught watching there." 

" And it was not himself ? " asked Hannah, catching 
up her breath. 

Molly gave her head a shake. " No more than it 
v/as you or me : it was his shadow. He walked on 
up the path, looking neither to the right nor left, and 
they lost sight of him. T was with mother when they 
came home. Mary Clarkson, she came in with Beck, 
and they said they had seen Tom Town, and supposed 
he had gone out watching, too. Mother advised them 
to hold their tongues : it didn't look well, she said, 
for them two, only sickly young girls, to have run out 
to the graveyard alone. A short while after, Tom 
Town, in talking of that night, mother having artfully 
led to it, said he had gone up to bed at nine with a 
splitting headache, and forgot all about its being St. 
Mark's Eve. When mother heard that, she turned the 
colour o' chalk, and looked round at me." 

"And Tom Town died ? " 

'' He died that blessed year ; the very day that folks 
was eating their Michaelmas gooses. A rapid decline 
took him off." 

" It's very strange," said Hannah, musingly. " People 
believe here that the shadows appear, and folks used 
to go watching, as it's said. I don't think many go 
now. Did the two young women die ? " 

" Not they. Becky's married, and got half-a-dozen 
children ; and Mary Clarkson, she went off to America. 
Shouldn't you like to watch ? " 



212 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

*' Well, I should/' acknowledged Hannah ; " I would, 
too, if I thought I should see anything. IVe said 
more than once in my life that I should just like to 
go out on St. Mark's Eve, and see whether there is 
anything in it or not. My mother went, I know.'' 

'af you'll go, ni go." 

Hannah made no answer to this at first. She sat 
looking at the fire with a cross face. It had always a 
cross look when she was deep in thought. " The 
mistress would think me such a fool, Molly, if she 
came to know of it." 

'' If! How could she come to know of it ? Next 
Monday will be the Easter holidays, and we mayn't 
never have the opportunity again. I shouldn't wonder 
but the lane's full o' watchers. St. Mark's Eve don't 
often come on a Easter Monday." 

There's no time to go on with what they said. A 
good half-hour the two sat there, laying their plans : 
when once Hannah had decided to go in for the 
expedition, she made no more bones over it. The 
nursery-windows faced the front, and when the carriage 
was heard driving in, they both decamped downstairs 
— Hannah to the children, Molly to her kitchen. I 
found Tod, and told him the news : Hannah and Molly 
were going to watch in the churchyard for the shadows 
on St. Mark's Eve. 

" We'll have some fun over this, Johnny," said he, 
when he had done laughing. '' You and I will be on 
to them." 

Monday came ; and, upon my word, it seemed as if 
things turned out on purpose. Mr. Todhetley went off 
to Worcester with Dwarf Giles, on some business con- 
nected with the Quarter Sessions, and was not expected 



WATCHING ON ST. MARK'S EVE. 213 

home until midnight, as he stayed to dine at Worcester. 
Mrs. Todhetley had one of her excruciating face-aches, 
and she went to bed when the children did — seven 
o'clock. Hannah had said in the morning that she 
and Molly were going to spend an hour or two with 
Goody Picker after the children were in bed ; upon 
which Mrs. Todhetley told her to get them to bed 
early. It was something rare for Hannah to take any 
holiday ; she generally said she did not Avant it. 
Goody Picker s husband used to be a gamekeeper — not 
ours. Since his death she lived how she could, on her 
vegetables, or by letting her odd room ; Roger Monk 
had it now. Sometimes she had her grandchild with 
her; and the parents, well-to-do shopkeepers at 
Alcester, paid her well. Goody Picker was thought 
well of at our house, and came up occasionally to have 
tea in the nursery with Hannah. 

' I was well by Monday ; nothing but a bit of a cough 
left; and Tod and I looked forward to the night's fun. 
Not a word had we heard since ; but we had seen the 
two women-servants whispering together whenever 
they got the chance ; and so we knew they were going. 
What Tod meant to do, he wouldn't tell me ; I think 
he hardly knew himself The big turnips were all 
gone, or he might have scooped one out for a death's 
head, and stuck it on the gate-post, with a candle in it. 

The night came. A clear night, v/ith a miserable 
moon. Miserable for our sport, because it was so 
bright. 

"A pitch-dark night would have had some sense in 
it, you know, Johnny," Tod remarked to me, as we 
stood at the door, looking out. ''The moon should 
jiide hor face on St. IVIark's Eve.'' 



214 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Just as he spoke, the clock struck nine. Time to 
be going. There was nobody to let or hinder us, 
Mrs. Todhetley was in bed groaning with toothache; 
old Thomas and Phoebe, neither of whom had cared to 
take holiday, were at supper in the kitchen. She was 
a young girl lately had in to help the housemaid. 

'' You go on, Johnny ; 111 follow presently. Take 
your time ; they won't go on the watch for this half- 
hour yet." 

" But, Tod, what is it that you are going to do ? " 

'' Never you mind. If you hear a great noise, and 
see a light blaze up, don't you be scared." 

'' I scared. Tod ! That's good." 

'' All right, Johnny. Take care not to be seen. It 
might spoil sport." 

The church was about half-a-mile from our house, 
whether you crossed the fields to it or took the high- 
way. It stood back from the road, in its big church- 
yard. A narrow lane, between two dwarf hedges, led 
up from the road to the gate ; it was hardly wide 
enough for carriages; they wound round the open 
road further on. A cross-path, shut in by two stiles, 
led right across the lane near to the churchyard gate. 
Stories went that a poor fellow who had hung himself 
about twenty years ago was buried by torchlight 
under that very crossing, with never a parson to say 
a prayer over him. 

We guessed where the women would stand — at one 
of these crossing stiles, w^th the gate and the church- 
yard in full view. As Tod said, it stood to reason 
that shadows and the watchers for them would not 
choose the broader road, where all was open, and not 
so much as a tree grew for shelter. 



WATCHING ON ST. MARK'S EVE. 215 

I stole along cautiously^ taking the roadway and 
keeping under shade o£ the hedge, and got there all 
right. Not a creature was about. The old grey 
church, built of stone, the many-shaped graves in the 
churchyard, stood white and cold in the moonlight. I 
went behind the cross-stile at the side furthest from 
our house, and leaned over it, looking up and down 
the lane. That the women would be on the opposite 
side was certain, because the churchyard gate could 
not be seen so well from this. 

The old clock did not tell the quarters, only struck 
the hour ; time went on, and I began to wonder how 
long I was to wait. It must, be turned half-past nine ; 
getting nearer to a quarter to ten ; and still nobody 
came. Where were the watchers ? And where was 
Tod ? The shadows of the trees, of the hedges, of the 
graves, fell in distinct lines on the grass ; and I don't 
mind confessing that it felt uncommonly lonely. 

'' Hou-ou-ou-ou-ou-ou-ou ! " burst forth over my head 
with a sudden and unearthly sound. I started back 
in a fright for one moment, and called myself an idiot 
the next, for it was only an owl. It had come flying 
forth from the old belfry, and went rushing on with 
its great wings, crying still, but changing its note. 
^^ Tu-whit; tu-whoo." 

And while I watched the owl, other sounds, as of 
whispering, made themselves manifest, heralding the 
approach of the women from the opposite field, making 
for the stile in front of me, through the little copse. 
Drawing behind the low hedge, to sit down on the 
stump of a tree, I pushed my head forward, and took 
a look at them through the lower bars of the stile. 
They were standing at the other, in their light shawls 



210 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

f.nd new Easter straw -bonnets ; Molly's trimmed with 
green, Hannah's with primrose. The moonlight fell 
full on their faces — mine was in the shade. But they 
might see me, and I drew back again. 

Presently they began to gabble ; in low tones at 
first, which increased, perhaps unconsciously to them- 
selves, to higher ones. They said how lonely it was, 
especially with '' them grave-marks " in view close by ; 
and they speculated upon whether any shadows would 
appear to them. My sense of loneliness had vanished. 
To have two practical women, each of them a good 
five-and-thirty, for neighbours, took it off. But I 
wondered what had become of Tod. 

Another owl ! or perhaps the last one coming back 
again. It was not so startling a noise as before, and 
created no alarm. I thought it a good opportunity to 
steal another look, and propelled my head forward an 
inch at a time. Their two faces were turned upwards, 
watching the owl's flight towards the belfry. 

But to my intense astonishment there was a third 
face. A face behind them peeping out from the close 
folds of a mantle, and almost resting on their shoulders. 
At the first moment I thought of Tod ; but soon the 
features became familiar to me in the bright light, and 
I knew them for Phoebe's. Phoebe, whom I had left 
in the kitchen, supping quietly ! That she had stolen 
up unseen and unheard while they talked, was 
apparent. 

A wild screech ! Two wild screeches. Phoebe had 
put her hands on the startled women, and given vent 
to a dismal groan. She laughed : but the others went 
into a desperate passion. First at having been 
frightened, next at having been followed. When 



WATCHING ON ST. MARK'S EVE. 217 

matters came to be investigated later, it turned out 
that Phoebe had overheard a conversation between 
Molly and Hannah, which betrayed what they were 
about to do, and had come on purpose to startle them. 

A row ensued. Bitter words on both sides ; mutual 
abusings. The elder servants ordered Phoebe home; 
she refused to go, and gave them some sauce. She 
intended to stay and see what there was to be seen, 
she said ; for all she could tell, their shadows might 
pass, and a good thing if they did; let alone that 
she'd not dare to go back by herself at that hour and 
meet the ghosts. Hannah and Molly cut the matter 
short by leaving the stile to her; they went round, 
and took up their places by the churchyard gate. 

It seems very stupid to be writing of this, I dare 
say; it must read like an old ghost-story out of a 
fable-book ; but every word is true, as the people that 
lived round us then could tell you. 

There we waited; Hannah and Molly gathered 
close against the hedge by the churchyard gate ; 
Phoebe, wrapped in her shawl, leaning on the top of 
the stile ; I on the old tree stump, feeling inclined to 
go to sleep. It seemed a long time, and the night 
grew cold. Evidently there were no watchers for St. 
Mark's shadows abroad that night, except ourselves. 
Without warning, the old clock boomed out the 
strokes of the hour. Ten. 

Did you ever have the opportunity of noticing how 
long it takes for a sound like this to die quite away 
on the calm night-air ? I seemed to hear it still, 
floating off in the distance, when I became aware that 
some figure was advancing up the lane towards us 
with a rather sxyift step. It's Tod this time, I 



218 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

thought, and naturally looked out ; and I don't mind 
telling that I caught hold of the bars of the stile for 
companionship, in my shock of terror. 

I had never seen the dead walking ; but I do believe 
I thought I saw it then. It looked like a corpse in 
its winding-sheet; whether man or woman, none 
could teU. An ashey-white, still, ghastly face, enveloped 
around with bands of white linen, was turned full to 
the moonlight, that played upon the rigid features. 
The whole person, from the crown of the head to the 
soles of the feet, was enshrouded in a white garment. 
All thoughts of Tod went out of me; and I'm not 
sure but my hair rose up on end as the thing came 
on. You may laugh at me, all of you, but just you 
go and try it. 

My fear went for nothing, however ; it didn't 
damage me. Of all the awful cries ever heard, shrill 
at first, changing to something like the barking of a 
dog afterwards, those were the worst that arose opposite. 
They came from Phoebe. The girl had stood petrified, 
with straining eyes and laboured breath, like one who 
has not the power to fly, while the thing advanced. 
Only when it stopped close and looked at her did the 
pent-up cries come forth. Then she turned to fly, and 
the white figure leaped the stile, and went after her 
into the copse. What immediately followed I cannot 
remember — never could remember it ; but it seemed 
that not more than a minute had elapsed when I and 
Molly and Hannah were standing over Phoebe, lying- 
in convulsions on the ground, and the creature nowhere 
to be seen. The cries had been heard in the road, and 
seme people passing came running up. They lifted 
the girl in their arms, and bore her homewards. 



WATCHING ON ST. MAKK'S EVE. 219 

My senses were coming to me, showing plainly 
enough that it was no "shadow/' but some ill-starred 
individual dressed up to personate one. Poor Phoebe ! 
I could hear her cries still, though the group was 
already out of the copse and crossing the open field 
beyond. Somebody touched me on the shoulder. 

" Tod ! Did you do it ? " 

" Do what ? " asked Tod, who was out of breath 
with running. " What was all that row ? " 

I told him. Somebody had made himself into a 
ghost, with a tied-up whitened face, just as the dead 
have, and came up the Green Lane in a sheet; and 
Phoebe was being carried home in convulsions. 

'^ You are a fool, Johnny," was his wrathful answer. 
" I am not one to risk a thing of that sort, not even 
for those two old women we came out to frighten. 
Look here." 

He went to the edge of the copse near the road, and 
showed me some things — the old pistol from the 
stable, and gunpowder lights that went off with a 
crash yards high. It's not of much use going into it 
now. Tod had meant, standing at a safe distance, to 
set a light to the explosive articles, and fire off his 
pistol at the same time. 

"It would have been so good to see the women 
scutter off* in their fright, Johnny; and it couldn't 
have hurt them. They might have looked upon it as 
the blue-light from below." 

" What made you so late ? " 

" Late ! " returned Tod, savagely ; " I am late, and 
the fun s spoilt. That confounded old Duff' and his 
cane came in to see you, Johnny, just as I was starting; 
there was nobody else, and I couldn't leave him. I 



220 • JOHJ^KY LUDLOAY. 

said you were ia bed and asleep, but it didn't send him 
away. Down he sat, telling a tale of how hard-worked 
he'd been all day, and asking for brandy-and-water. 
The dickens take him ! '' 

" And, Tod, it was really not 5^ou ? " 

" If you repeat that again, Johnny, I'll strike you. 
I swear it was not me. There ! I never told you a 
lie yet." 

He never had ; and from that moment of strong 
denial I knew that Tod had no more to do with the 
matter than I had. 

'' I wonder who it could have been ? " 

'' 111 find that out, as sure as my name's Todhetley," 
he said, ca^tching up his pistols and lights. 

We ran all the way home, looking out in vain for 
the ghost on our way, and got in almost as soon as 
the rest. What a hullabaloo it was 1 They put a 
mattress on the kitchen floor, and laid Phoebe on it. 
Mr. Duffham was upon the scene in no time; the 
Squire had returned earlier than was thought for, and 
Mrs. Todhetley came down with her face smothered 
in a woollen handkerchief 

As to any concealment now, it was useless to think 
of it. None was attempted, and Molly and Hannah 
had to confess that they went out to watch for the 
shadows. The Squire blustered at them a little, but 
Mrs. Todhetley said the keenest thing, in her mild 
way: 

" At your age, Hannah ! " 

'' I have known a person rendered an idiot for life 
with a less fright than this," said old Duff, turning 
round to speak. '' It was the following her that did 
the mischief." 



WATCHING ON ST. MAEK'S EYE. 221 

Nothing could be done that night as to investiga- 
tion ; but with the morning the Squire entered upon 
it in hot anger. " Couldn't the fool have been eon- 
tented with what he'd already done, without going 
over the stile after her ? If I spend a fifty-pound 
note, I'll unearth him. It looks to me uncommonly 
like a trick you two boys would play," he added, 
turning sharply upon me and Tod. 

And the suspicion made us all the more eager to 
find out the real fox. But not a clue could we dis- 
cover. Nobody had known of the proposed expedi- 
tion except Goody Picker ; and she, as everybody 
testified, v/as true to the backbone. As the day 
went on, and nothing came of it, Tod had one of his 
stamping fits. 

"If one could find out whether it was man or 
woman ! If one could divine how they got at the 
knowledge ! " stamped Tod. '' The pater does not look 
sure about us yet." 

" I wonder if it could have been Roger Monk ? " I 
said, speaking out a thought that had been dimly 
creeping up in my mind by starts all day. 

" Roger Monk ! " repeated Tod, " why pitch upon 
him ? " 

" Only that it's just possible he might have got it 
out of Goody Picker." 

Away went Tod, in his straightforward fashion, to 
look for Roger Monk. He was in the hot-house, doing 
something to his plants. 

'' Monk, did you play that trick last night ? " 

" What trick, sir ? " asked Monk, twitching a good- 
for-nothing leaf off" a budding geranium. 

'' What trick ! As if there were more tricks than 



222 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

one played ! I mean dressing yourself up like a dead 
man, and frio-hteninof Phoebe." 

'' I have too much to do with my work, Mr. Tod- 
hetley, to find time to play tricks. I took no holiday 
at all yesterday, day or night, but was about my 
business till I went to bed. - They were saying out 
here this morning that the Squire thought yon had 
done it." 

'' Don't you be insolent, Monk. That won't answer 
with me." 

^'Well, sir, it is not pleasant to be accused point- 
blank of a crime, as you ve just accused me. I know 
nothing at all about the matter. Twasn't me. I had 
no grudge against Phoebe, that I should harm her." 

Tod was satisfied; I was not. He never once 
looked in either of our faces as he was speaking. We 
leaped the wire-fence and went across to Goody 
Picker s, bursting into her kitchen without ceremony. 

'' I say, Mrs. Picker, we can't find out anything 
about that business last night," began Tod. 

" And you never will, gentlemen, as is my opinion," 
returned Mrs. Picker, getting up in a bustle and d Ust- 
inov two wooden chairs. " Whoever did that, have 
took himself off for a bit; never doubt it. 'Twas 
some one o' them village lads." 

"We have been wondering whether it was Roger 
Monk." 

" Lawk-a-mercy 1 " cried she, dropping a basin on the 
brick floor. And if ever I saw a woman change 
colour, she did. 

^^ What's the matter now ? " 

"Why, you sent me into a tremble, gentlemen, 
saying that," she answered, stooping to pick up the 



WATCHING ON ST. MAKK'S EVE. 223 

broken crockery. ''A young man lodging in my 
place, do such a villain's trick ! I'd not like to think 
it; I shouldn't rest in my bed. The two servants 
having started right out from here for the churchyard 
have CO wed-down my heart bad enough, without more 
ill news." ! 

" What time did Monk come in last night ? '' ques- 
tioned Tod. '' Do you remember ? '' 

''He come in after Mrs. Hannah and the other had 
gone," she replied, taking a moment's pause. '' Close 
upon it; I'd hardly shut my door on them when I 
had to open it to him." 

'' Did he go out again ? " 

''Not he, sir. He eat his supper, telling me in a 
grumbling tone about the extra work he'd had to do 
in the greenhouses and places, because the other man 
had took holiday best part o' the day. And then he 
went up to bed. Right tired he seemed." 

We left her fitting the pieces of the basin together, 
and went home. " It wasn't Monk," said Tod. " But 
now — where to look for the right man, Johnny ? " 

Look as we might, we did not find him. Phoebe 
was better in a day or two, but the convulsive fits 
stuck to her, coming on at all sorts of unexpected 
times. Old Duff thought it might end in insanity. 

And that's what came of Watching for the Shadows 
on St. Mark's Eve 1 



SANKBR^S VISIT. 

His name was Sanker, and he was related to Mrs. 
Todhetley. Not expecting to go home for the holidays 
— for his people lived in some far-off district of Wales, 
and did not afford him the journey — Tod invited him 
to spend them with us at Dyke Manor: which was 
uncommonly generous, for he disliked Sanker beyond 
everything. Having plenty of money himself, Tod 
could not bear that a connection of his should be 
known as nearly the poorest and meanest in the school, 
and resented it awfully. But he could not be ill- 
natured, for all his prejudices, and he asked Sanker to 
go home with us. 

''It's slow there," he said; "not much going on in 
summer besides haymaking ; but it may be an improve- 
ment on this. So, if you'd like to come, I'll write and 
tell them.'' 

"Thank you," said Sanker; "I should like it very 
much." 

Things had been queer at school as the term drew 
to its close. Petty pilferings were taking place ; 
articles and money alike disappeared. Tod lost half- 
a-sovereign ; one of the masters some silver ; Bill 
Whitney put sevenpence halfpenny and a set of 
enamelled studs into his desk one day, never to see 
either again; and Snepp, who had been home to his 
sister's marriage, lost a piece of wedding-cake out of 



SANKER'S VISIT. 225 

his box the night he came back. There was a thief 
in the school, and no clue to him. One might mentally 
accuse this fellow, another that ; but not a shadow of 
proof was there against any. Altogether we were not 
sorry to get away. 

But the curious thing was, that soon after we got 
home pilferings began there. Ned Sanker was well 
received ; and Tod, regarding himself in the capacity 
of host, grew more cordial with him than he had be^n 
at school. It was a sort of noblesse oblige feeling. 
Sanker was sixteen ; stout and round ; not tall ; with 
pale eyes and a dull face. He was to be a clergyman; 
funds at his home permitting. His father lived at some 
mines in Wales. Tod w^ondered in what capacity. 

" Mr. Sanker was a gentleman born and bred," 
explained Mrs, Todhetley. "He never had much 
money ; but what little it was he lost, speculating in 
this very mine. After that, when he had nothing in 
the world left to live upon, and a wife and several 
young children to keep, he was thankful to take a 
situation as over-looker at a small yearly salary." 

We had been home about a week when the first 
thing was missed. At one side of the house, in a sort 
of nook, was a square room, its glass-doors opening on 
the gravel-path that skirted the hedge of the vegetable 
garden. Squire Todhetley kept his farming accounts 
there and wrote his letters. A barometer and two 
county maps, Worcestershire and Waa:wickshire> on its 
walls, a square of matting on its floor, an upright 
bureau, a table, some chairs ; and there you have the 
picture of the room. 

One afternoon — mind ! we did not know this for a 
week after, but it is as well to tell of it as it occurred 

Jcbnny Ludlow.— v. 15 



226 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

— he was sitting at the table in this room, his account- 
books, kept in the bureau, open before him ; his ink- 
stand and cash-box at hand. Lying near the cash-box 
was a five-pound note, open; the Squire had put it 
out for Dwarf Giles to get changed at Alcester. He 
was writing an order for some things that Giles would 
have to bring back, when Rimmell, who acted as 
working bailiff on the estate, came to the glass-doors, 
open to the warm June air, saying he had received an 
offer for the wheat that had spurted. The Squire 
stepped outside on the gravel-path while he talked 
with Pvimmell, and then strolled round with him to the 
fold-yard. He was away— that is, out of sight of the 
room — about three minutes, and when he got back 
the note was gone. 

He could not believe his own eyes. It was a calm 
day; no wind stirring. He lifted the things on the 
table ; he lifted the matting on the floor ; ho shook his 
loose coat; all in vain. Standing at the door, he 
shouted aloud ; he walked along the path to the front 
of the house, and shouted there ; but was not answered. 
So far as could be seen, no person whatever was about 
who could have come round to the room during his 
short absence. 

Striding back to the room, he went through it, and 
up the passage to the hall, his boots creaking. Molly 
was in the kitchen, singing over her work; Phoebe 
and Hannah were heard talking upstairs; and Mrs. 
Todhetley stood in the store-room, doing something 
to the last years pots of jam. She said, on being 
questioned, that no one had passed to the passage 
leading to the Squire's room. 

It happened at that moment, that I, coming home 



SANKER'S VISIT. 227 

from the Dyke, ran into the hall; full butt against the 
Squire. 

"Johnny/' said he, '' where are you all ? What are 
you up to ? " 

I had been at the Dyke all the afternoon with Tod 
and Hugh; they were there still. Not Sanker: he 
was outside, on the lawn, reading. This I told the 
pater, and he said no more. Later, when we came to 
know what had happened, he mentioned to us that, at 
this time, no idea of robbery had entered his head ; 
he thought one of us might have hidden the money in 
sport. 

So much an impossibility did it appear of the note's 
having been lifted by human hands, that the Squire 
went back to his room in a maze. He could only 
think that it must have attached itself to his clothes, 
and dropped off them in the fold-yard. What had 
become of it, goodness knew ; whether it had fluttered 
into the pond, or the hens had scratched it to pieces, 
or the turkeys gobbled it up ; he searched fruitlessly. 

That was on a Thursday. On the following Thurs- 
day, when Tod was lying on the lawn bench on his 
back, playing with his tame magpie, and teasing Hugh 
and Lena, the pater s voice was heard calling to him 
in a sharp, quick tone, as if something was the matter. 
Tod got up and went round by the gravel-path to 
whence the sound came, and I followed. The Squire 
was standing at the window of the room, half in, half 
out. 

"I don't want you, Johnny. Stay, though," he 
added, after a moment, " you may as well be told — 
why not ? " 

He sat down in his place at the table. Tod stood 



228 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

just inside the door, paying more attention to the 
magpie, which he had brought on his arm, than to his 
father : I leaned against the bureau. There was a 
minute's silence, waiting for the Squire to speak. 

" Put that wretched bird down,'' he said ; and we 
knew something had put him out, for he rarely spoke 
with sharpness to Tod. 

Tod sent the magpie off, and came in. The first 
day we got home from school, Tod had rescued the 
magpie from Goody Picker s grandson ; he caught him 
pulling the feathers out of its tail ; gave him sixpence 
for it, and brought it home. A poor, miserable, half- 
starved thing, that somebody had taught to say con- 
tinually, ''Now then, Peter." Tod meant to feed it 
into condition ; but the pater had not taken kindly to 
the bird ; he said it would be better dead than alive. 

''What was that I heard you boys talking of the 
other day, about some petty pilferings in your school ? " 
he asked, abruptly. And we gave him the history. 

" Well, as it seems to me, the same thing is going 
on here," he continued, looking at us both. " Johnny, 
sit down; I can't talk while you sway about like 
that." 

" The same thing going on here, sir ? " 

'' I say that it seems so," said the pater, thrusting 
both his hands deep into his trousers' pockets, and 
rattling the silver in them. " Last Thursday, this 
day week, a bank-note lay on my table here. I just 
went round to the yard with Rimmell, and when I 
got back the note was gone." 

" Where did it go to ? " asked Tod, practically. 

"That is just the question — where? I concluded 
that it must have stuck to my coat in some unaccount- 



BANKER'S VISIT. 229 

able way, and got lost out-of-doors. I don't conclude 
so now/' 

Tod seemed to take the news in his usual careless 
fashion^ and kept privately telegraphing signs to the 
magpie, sitting now on the old tree-stump opposite. 

^' Yes, sir. Well?" 

*^ I think now, Joe, that somebody came in at these 
open doors, and tooh the note," said the pater, impres- 
sively. " And I want to find out who it was." 

" Now then, Peter ! " cried the bird, hopping down 
on the gravel ; at which Tod laughed. The Squire 
got up in a rage, and shut the doors with a bang. 

"If you can't be serious for a few moments, you 
had better say so. I can tell you this is likely to turn 
out no laughing business." 

Tod turned his back to the glass-doorS; and left the 
magpie to its devices. 

" Whoever it was, contrived to slip round here from 
the front, during my temporary absence ; possibly 
without ill intention : the sight of the note lying open 
might have proved too strong a temptation for him." 

" Him ! " put in Tod, critically. •' It might have 
been a woman." 

"You might be a jackass : and often are one," said 
the pater. And it struck us both, from the affable 
retort, that his suspicions w^ere pointing to some 
particular person of the male gender. 

" This morning, after breakfast, I was here, writing 
a letter," he went on. " While sealing it, Thomas 
called me away in a hurry, and I was absent the best 
part of an hour. When I got back, my ring had dis- 
appeared." 

" Your ring, sir ! " cried Tod. 



230 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' Yes, my ring, sir/' mocked the pater ; for he 
thought we were taking up the matter lightly, and it 
nettled him. '' I left it on the seal, expecting to find 
it there when I returned. Not so. The ring had 
gone, and the letter lay on the ground. We have got 
a thief about the house, boys — a thief — within or 
without. Just the same sort of thief, as it seems to 
me, that you had at school" 

Tod suddenly leaned forward, his elbow on his 
knee, his whole interest aroused. Some unpleasant 
doubt had struck him, as was evident by the flush 
upon his face. 

'' Of course, anybody that might be about, back or 
front, could find their way down here if they pleased," 
he slowly said. '' Tramps get in sometimes.'' 

*' Rarely, without being noticed. Who did you boys 
see about the place that afternoon — tramp or gentle- 
man ? Come ! You were at the house, Johnny : you 
bolted into it, head foremost, saying you had come 
from the Dyke." 

'' I never saw a soul but Sanker : he was on the 
bench on the lawn, reading. I said so at the time, 
sir." 

*'Ah! yes; Sanker was there reading," quietly 
assented the Squire. " What were you hastening 
home for, Johnny ? " 

As if that mattered, or could have had anything to 
do with it ! He had a knack of asking unpleasant 
questions ; and I looked at Tod. 

*' Hugh got his blouse torn, and Johnny came in to 
get another," acknowledged Tod, readily. The fact 
was, Hugh's clothes that afternoon had come to un- 
common grief. Hannah had made one of her usual 



BANKER'S VISIT. 231 

rows over it, and afterwards shown the things to Mrs, 
Todhetley. 

''Well, and now for to-day/' resumed the pater. 
" Where have you all been ? " 

Where had we not ? In the three-cornered paddock ; 
with Monk in the pine-house ; away in the rick -yard ; 
once to the hay-field ; at the rabbit-hutches ; round at 
the stables ; oh, everywhere. 

'' You two, and Sanker ? " 

'' Not Sanker," I said. Sanker stayed on the lawn 
with his book. We had all been on the lawn for the 
last half-hour: he, us, Hugh, Lena, and the magpie. 
But not a suspicious character of any sort had we 
seen about the place. 

" Sanker's fond of reading on the lawn," remarked 
Mr. Todhetley, in a careless tone. But he got no 
answer : we had been struck into silence. 

He took one hand out of his pocket, and drummed 
on the table, not looking at either of us. Tod had 
laid hold of a piece of blotting-paper and was pulling 
it to pieces. I wondered what they were thinking 
of: I know what I was. 

"At any rate, the first thing is to find the ring; 
that only went this morning," said the Squire, as he 
left us. Tod sat on where he was, dropping the bits 
of paper. 

'' I say, Tod, do you think it could be ? " 

" Hold your tongue, Johnny ! " he shouted. " No, I 
don't think it. The bank-note — light, flimsy thing — 
must have been lost in the yard, and the ring will 
turn up. It's somewhere on the floor here." 

In five minutes the news had spread. Mr. Todhetley 
had told his wife, and summoned the servants to the 



232 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

search. Botli losses were made known ; consternation 
fell on the household; the women-servants searched 
the room ; old Thomas bent his back double over the 
frame outside the glass-doors. But there was no 
ring. 

"This is just like the mysterious losses we had at 
school/' exclaimed Sanker, as a lot of us were standing 
in the hall. 

" Yes, it is,'' said the Squire. 

"Perhaps, sir, your ring is in a corner of some odd 
pocket ? " went on Sanker. 

''Perhaps it may be," answered the Squire, rather 
emphatically ; '' but not in mine." 

Happening to look at Mrs. Todhetley, I saw her 
face had turned to a white fright. Whether the 
remark of Sanker or the peculiarity of the Squire's 
manner brought to her mind the strange coincidence 
of the losses, here and at school, certain it was the 
doubt had dawned upon her. Later, when I and Tod 
were hunting in the room on our own account, she 
came to -us with her terror-stricken face. 

'' Joseph, I see what you are thinking," she said ; 
" but it can't be ; it can't be. If the Sankers are 
poor, they are honest. I wish you knew his father 
and mother." 

" I have not accused any one, Mrs. Todhetley." 

" No ; neither has your father ; but you suspect." 

^•' Perhaps we had better not talk of it," said Tod. 

"Joseph, I think we must talk of it, and see what 
can be done. If — if he should have done such a thing, 
of course he cannot stay here." 

" But we don't know that he has, therefore he ought 
not to be acci^i^ed of it" 



SANKER'S VISIT. 233 

" Oh ! Joseph, don't you see the pain ? None of 
you can feel this as I do. He is my relative." 

I felt so sorry for her. With the trouble in her 
pale, mild eyes, and the quivering of her thin, meek 
lips. It was quite evident that she feared the worst : 
and Tod threw away concealment with his step-mother. 

^' We must not accuse him ; we must not let it be 
known that we suspect him," he said ; " the matter 
here can be hushed up — got over^ — but were suspicion 
once directed to him on the score of the school losses, 
the disgrace would never be lived down, now or later. 
It would cling to him through life." 

Mrs. Todhetley clasped her slender and rather bony 
fingers, from which the wedding-ring looked always 
ready to drop oflF. *' Joseph," she said, "you assume 
confidently that he has done it ; I see that. Perhaps 
you know he has ? Perhaps you have some proof 
that you are concealing ? " 

^^No, on my honour. But for my father's laying 
stress on the curious coincidence of the disappearances 
at school I should not have thought of Sanker. ' Losses 
there ; losses here,' he said " 

*'Now then, Peter!" mocked the bird, from his 
perch on the old tree. 

" Be quiet ! " shouted Tod. " And then the Squire 
went on adroitly to the fact, without putting it into 
words, that nobody else seems to have been within 
hail of this room either time." 

" He has had so few advantages ; he is kept so 
short of money," murmured poor Mrs. Todhetley, seek- 
ing to find an excuse for him. " I would almost rather 
have found my boy Hugh — when he shall be old 
enough — guilty of such a thing, than Edward SankeiV' 



234 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

" I'd a great deal rather it had been me," I ex- 
claimed. " I shouldn't have felt half so uncomfortable. 
And we are not sure. Can't we keep him here, after all ? 
It will be an awful thing to turn him out— a thief." 

'' He is not going to be turned out, a thief. Don't 
put in your oar, Johnny. The pater intends to hush 
it up. Why ! had he suspected any other living 
mortal about the place, except Sanker, he'd have 
accused them outright, and sent for old Jones in hot 
haste." 

Mrs. Todhetley, holding her hand to her troubled 
face, looked at Tod as he spoke. " I am not sure, 
Joseph — I don't quite know whether to hush it up 
entirely will be for the best. If he Oh !" 

The exclamation came out with a shriek. We 
turned at it^ having been standing together at the 
table, our backs to the window. There stood Sanker. 
How long he had been there was uncertain ; quite 
long enough to hear and comprehend. His face was 
livid with passion, his voice hoarse with it. 

^^Is it possible that I am accused of taking the 
bank-note and the ring ? — of having been the thief at 
school ? I thank you, Joseph Todhetley." 

Mrs. Todhetley, always for peace, ran before him, 
and took his hands. Her gentle words were drowned 
— Tod's were overpowered. When quiet fellows like 
Sanker do get into a rage, it's something bad to 
witness. 

^'Look here, old fellow," said Tod, in a breath of 
silence ; " we don't accuse you, and don't wish to 
accuse you. The things going here, as they did at 
school, is an unfortunate coincidence ; you can't shut 
your eyes to it; but as to " 



SANKER'S VISIT. * 235 

*' Why are yon not accused ? — why's Ludlow not 
accused ? — you were both at school, as well as I ; and 
you are both here/' raved Sanker, panting like a wild 
animal. '' You have money, both of you ; you don't 
want helping on in life ; I have only my good name. 
And that you would take from me ! " 

^' Edward, Edward ! we did not wish to accuse 
you ; we said we would not accuse you," cried poor 
Mrs. Todhetley in her simplicity. But his voice 
broke in. 

" No ; you only suspected me. You assumed my 
guilt, and would not be honest enough to accuse me, 
lest I refuted it. Not another hour will I stay in this 
house. Come with me." 

" Don't be foolish, Sanker ! If we are wrong " 

" Be silent ! " he cried, turning savagely on Tod. 
'' I'm not strong ; no match for you, or I would pound 
you to atoms ! Let me go my own way now. You 
go yours." 

Half dragging, half leading Mrs. Todhetley with 
him, the angry light in his eyes frightening her, he 
went to his bedroom. Taking off his jacket; turning 
his pockets inside out ; emptying the contents of his 
trunk on the floor, he scattered the articles, one by 
one, with the view of showing that he had nothing 
concealed belonging to other people. Mrs. Todhetley, 
great in quiet emergencies, had her senses hopelessly 
scared away in this ; she could only cry, and implore 
of him to be reasonable. He flung back his things, 
and in five minutes was gone. Dragging his box 
down the stairs by its stout cord, he managed to hoist 
it on his shoulders, and they saw him go fiercely off 
across the lawn. 



236 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

I met him in the plantation, beyond the Dyke. 
Mrs. Todhetley, awfully distressed, sent me flying 
away to find the pater ; she mistakenly thought he 
might be at Rimmell's, who lived in a cottage beyond 
it. Running home through the trees, I came upon 
Sanker. He was sitting on his box, crying ; great big 
sobs bursting from him. Of course he could not carry 
that far. Down I sat by him, and put my hand on 
his. 

" Don't, Sanker ! don't, old fellow ! Come back 
and have it cleared up. I dare say they are all wrong 
together." 

His angry mood had changed. Those fierce whirl- 
winds of passion are generally followed by depression. 
He did not seem to care an atom for his sobs, or for 
my seeing them. 

" It's the cruelest wrong I ever had dealt to me, 
Johnny. Why should they pitch upon me.^ What 
have they seen in me that they should set me down 
as a thief? — and such a thief ! Why, the very 
thought of it, if they send her word, will kill my 
mother." 

" You didn't do it, Sanker, I " 

He got up, and raised his hand solemnly to the blue 
sky, just as a man might have done. 

'' I swear I did not. I swear I never laid finger on 
a thing in your house, or at school, that was not mine. 
God hears me say it." 

''And now you'll come back with me, Ned. The 
box will take no harm here till we send for it." 

" Go back with you ! that I never will. Fare you 
well, Johnny : I'll wish it to yon'' 

'' But where are you going ? " 



SANKER'S VISIT. 237 

" That's my business. Look here ; I was more 
generous than some of you have been. All along, I 
felt as sure who it was, cribbing those things at school, 
as though I had seen it done; but I never told. I 
just whispered to the fellow, when we were parting : 
* Don't you go in for the same game next half, or I 
shall have you dropped upon ; ' and I don't think he 
will." 

" Who -r- which was it ? " I cried, eagerly. 

'' No : give him a chance. It was neither you nor 
me, and that's enough to know. 

Hoisting the box up on to the projecting edge of 
a tree, he got it on his shoulders again. Certain of 
his innocence then, I was in an agony to get him 
back. 

'' It's of no use, Johnny. Good-bye." 

'' Sanker ! Ned ! The Squire will be fit to smother 
us all, when he finds you are off; Mrs. Todhetley is in 
dreadful grief Such an unpleasant thing has never 
before happened with us." 

*' Good-bye," was all he repeated, marching resolutely 
off, with the black box held safe by the cord. 

Fit to smother us? I thought the pater would 
have done it, when he came home late in the after- 
noon; laying the blame of Sanker's going, first on Mrs. 
Todhetley, then on Tod, then on me. 

" What is to be done ? " he asked, looking at us all 
helplessly. " I wouldn't have had it come out for the 
world. Think of his parents — of his own prospects." 

" He never did it, sir," I said, speaking up ; " he 
swore it to me.'' 

The pater gave a sniff". '' Swearing does not go for 
much in such cases, I'm afraid, Johnny." 



238 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

It was so hopeless, the making them understand 
Sanker's solemn truth as he did swear it, that I held 
my tongue. I told Tod ; also, what he had said about 
the fellow he suspected at school ; but Tod only curled 
his lip, and quietly reminded me that I should never 
be anything but a muff. 

Three or four days passed on. We could not learn 
where Sanker went to, or what had become of him ; 
nothing about him except the fact that he had left his 
box at Goody Picker's cottage, asking her to take 
charge of it until it was sent for. Mrs. Todhetley 
would not write to Wales, or to the school, for fear 
of makino^ mischief. I know this : it was altogether 
a disagreeable remembrance, whichever way we looked 
at it, but I was the only one who believed in his 
innocence. 

On the Monday another loss occurred ; not one of 
value in itself, but uncommonly significant. Since the 
explosion, Mrs. Todhetley had moved about the house 
restlessly, more like a fish out of water than a reason- 
able woman, following the Squire to his room, and 
staying there to talk with him, as she never had 
before. It was always in her head to do something 
to mend matters ; but, what, she could not tell ; hence 
her talkings with the pater. As each day passed, 
bringing no news of Sanker, she grew more anxious 
and fidgety. While he was in his room on the Monday 
morning, she came in with her work. It was the 
unpicking some blue ribbons from a white body of 
Lena's. There had been a child's party at the Stirlings' 
(they were always giving them), and Lena had a new 
frock for it. The dressmaker had put a glistening 
glass thing, as big as a pea, in the bows that tied up 



I 



SANKER'S VISIT. 239 

the sleeves. They looked like diamonds. The pater 
made a fuss after we got home, saying it was incon- 
sistent at the best ; she was too young for real diamonds, 
and he would not have her wear mock rubbish. Well, 
Mrs. Todhetley had the frock in her hand, taking these 
bows off, when she came to the Squire on the Monday 
morning, chattering and lamenting. I saw and heard 
her. On' going away she accidentally left one of them 
on the table. The Squire went about as usual, dodging 
in and out of the room at intervals like a dog in a 
fair. I sat on the low seat, on the other side of the 
hedge, in the vegetable garden, making a fishing-line 
and jlinging stones at the magpie whenever he came 
up to his perch on the old tree's stump. All was still ; 
nothing to be heard but his occasional croak, " Now 
then, Peter ! " Presently I caught a soft low whistle 
behind me. Looking through the hedge, I saw Koger 
Monk coming out of the room with stealthy steps, and 
going off towards his greenhouses. I thought nothing 
of it; it was his ordinary way of walking; but he 
must have come up to the room very quietly. 

" Johnny,'' came the Squire's voice by-and-by, and 
I ran round : he had seen me sitting there. 

'' Johnny, have you a mind for a walk to- 

He had got thus far when Mrs. Todhetley came in 
by the inner door, and began looking on the table. 
Nothing in the world was on it except the inkstand, 
the Worcester Herald, and the papers before the 
Squire. 

" I must have left one of the blue knots here," she 
said. 

" You did ; I saw it," said the Squire ; and he took 
up his papers one by one, and shook the newspaper. 



240 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Well, the blue shoulder-knot was gone. Just as 
we had searched for the ring, we searched for that ; 
under the matting, and above the matting, and every- 
where ; I and those two. A grim look came over the 
Squire's face. 

" The thief is amongst us still. He has taken that 
glittering paste thing for a diamond. This clears 
Sanker.'' 

Mrs. Todhetley burst into glad sobs. I had never 
seen her so excited; you might have thought her 
an hysterical girl. She would do all sorts of things 
at once ; the least of which was, starting in a post- 
chaise-and-four for Wales. 

" Do nothing," said the Squire, with authority. *' I 
had news of Sanker this morning, and he's back at 
school. He wrote me a letter." 

*' Oh, why did you not show it me ? " asked Mrs. 
Todhetley, through her tears. 

" Because it's a trifle abusive ; actionable, a lawyer 
might say," he answered, stopping a laugh. '' Ah ! ha ! 
a big diamond ! I'm as glad of this as if anybody had 
left me a thousand pounds," continued the good old 
pater. *' I've not had that boy out of my head since, 
night or day. We'll have him back to finish his 
holidays — eh, Johnny ? " 

Whether I went along on my head or my tail, doing 
the Squire's errand, I didn't exactly know. To my 
mind the thief stood disclosed — Koger Monk. But I 
did not much like to betray him to the Squire. As 
a compromise between duty and disinclination, I told 
Tod. He went straight off to the Squire, and Roger 
Monk was ordered to the room. 

He did not take the accusation as Sanker took it — 



SANKER'S VISIT. 241 

noisily. About as cool and hardy as any fellow could 
be, stood he ; white, angry retaliation shining from 
his sullen face. And, for once, he looked full at the 
Squire as he spoke. 

<, *'This is the second time I have been accused 
wrongfully by you or yours, sir. You must prove 
your words. A bank-note, a ring, a false diamond 
(taken to be a true one), in a blue ribbon ; and I have 
stolen them. If you don't either prove your charge 
to be true, or withdraw the imputation, the law shall 
make you, Mr. Todhetley. I am down in the world, 
obliged to take a common situation for a while ; but 
that's no reason why I should be browbeat and put 
upon." 

! Somehow, the words, or the manner, told upon the 
Squire. He was not feeling sure of his grounds. 
Until then he had never cast a thought of ill on Roger 
Monk. 

I '' What were you doing here, Monk ? What made 
you come up stealthily, and creep stealthily away 
again ? " demanded Tod, who had assumed the guilt 
out and out. 

: "As to what I was doing here, I came to ask a 
question about my work," coolly returned Monk. '' I 
walked slowly, not stealthily ; the day's hot." 

" You had better turn out your pockets. Monk," said 
the Squire. 

He did so at once, just as Sanker had done un- 
bidden, biting his lips to get some colour into them. 
Lots of odds and ends of things were there ; string, 
nails, a tobacco-pipe, halfpence, and such like ; but no 
blue bow. I don't think the Squire knew whether to 
let him off as innocent, or to give him into custody 

Johnny Ludlow.— V. 16 



242 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

as guilty. At any rate, he seemed to be in hesitation, 
when who should appear on the scene but Goody 
Picker. The turned-out pockets, Monk's aspect, and 
the few words she caught, told the tale. 

'' If you please. Squire — if you please, young 
masters," she began, dropping a curtsy to us in 
succession ; *' the mistress told me to come round here. 
Stepping up this morning about a job o' work I'm 
doing for Mrs. Hannah, I heard of the losses that have 
took place, apperiently thefts. So I up and spoke; 
and Hannah took me to the mistress ; and the mistress, 
who had got her gownd off a-changing of it, listened 
to what I had to say, and telled me to come round 
at once to Mr. Todhetley. (Don't you be frighted. 
Monk.) Sir, young gentlemen, I think it might have 
been the magpie." 

'' Think who might have been the magpie ? " asked 
the Squire, puzzled. 

'' What stole the things. Sir, that there pie, bought 
only t'other day from my gran'son by young Mr. 
Todhetley, was turned out o' my son Peter's home at 
Alcester for thieving. He took this, and he took 
that ; he have been at it for weeks, ever since they'd 
had him. They thought it was the servant, and sent 
her awaj^ (A dirty young drab she was, so 'twere no 
loss.) Not her, though ; it were that beast of a mag- 
pie. A whole nest of goods he had got hid away in 
the brewhouse : but for having a brewing on, he 
might never ha' been found out. The woman was 
drav/ing off her second mash when she see him hop in 
with a new shirt wristban' and drop it into the old 
iron pot." 

Tod, who believed the story to be utterly unreason- 



SANKEB'S VISIT. 243 

able— got up, perhaps, by Mother Picker to screen the 
real thief — resented the imputation on his magpie. 
The bird came hopping up to us, '' Now, then, 
Peter." 

"That's rather too good, Mrs. Picker, that is. I 
have heard o£ lodging-house cats effecting wonders in 
the way of domestic disappearances, but not of mag- 
pies. Look at him, poor old fellow ! He can't speak 
to defend himself" 

'' Yes, look at him, sir," repeated Mother Picker ; 
'^and a fine objec' of a half- fed animal he is, to look 
at ! My opinion is, he have got something wrong o' 
the inside of him, or else it's his sins that troubles his 
skin, for the more he's give to eat the thinner he gets. 
No feathers, no flesh; nothing but a big beak, and 
them bright eyes, and the deuce's own tongue for 
impedence. Which is begging pard'n for speaking up 
free," concluded Mother Picker, as Mrs. Todhetley came 
in, fastening her waistband. 

A little searching, not a tithe of what had been 
before again and again, and the creature's nest was 
discovered. In a cavity of the old tree-stump, so 
conveniently opposite, lay the articles : the bank-note, 
the ring, the blue bow, and some other things, most 
of which had not been missed. One was a bank 
receipt, that the house had been hunted for high and 
low. 

''Now, then, Peter!" cried the magpie, hopping 
about on the gravel as he watched the raid on his 
treasures. 

"He must be killed to-day, Joe," said Mr. Tod- 
hetley ; " he has made mischief enough. I never took 
kindly to him. Monk, I am sorry for the mistake 



244 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

I was led into ; but we suspected others before you — 
ay, and accused them." 

" Don't mention it, sir," replied Monk, his eye catch- 
ing mine. And if ever I saw revenge written in a 
face, it was in his as he turned away. 



ROGER MONK. 

I'd never seen such a scene before ; I have not seen 
one since. Perhaps, in fact, the same thing had never 
happened. 

What had done it nobody could imagine. It was 
as if the place had been smoked out with some 
deleterious stuff; some destructive or poisoning gases, 
fatal to vegetable life. 

On the previous day but one, Tuesday, there had 
been a party at the Manor. Squire and Mrs. Tod- 
hetley did not go in for much of that kind of thing, 
but some girls from London were staying with the 
Jacobsons, and we all went over to a dance there on 
the Friday. After supper some of them got talking 
to Mrs. Todhetley, asking in a laughing sort of way 
why she did not give them one ? she shook her head, 
and answered that we were quiet people. Upon that 
Tod spoke up, and said he had no doubt the Squire 
would give one if asked; would like to do it. Had 
Mrs. Todhetley gone heartily into the proposal at 
once, Tod would have thrown cold water on it. That 
was his obstinacy. The girls attacked the Squire, 
and the thing was settled ; the dance being fixed for 
the following Tuesday. 

I know Mrs. Todhetley thought it an awful trouble ; 
the Squire openly said it was when we got home ; 
and he grumbled all day on Saturday. You see, our 



246 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

servants were not used to fashionable parties ; neither 
in truth were their masters. However, if it had to be 
done at all, it was to be done well. The laundry was 
cleared out for dancing; the old square ironing-stove 
taken away, and a few pictures were done round with 
wreaths of green and hung on the yellow-washed 
walls. The supper-table was laid in the dining-room ; 
leaving the drawing-room free for reception. 

It was the Squire thought of having the plants 
brought into the hall. He never could say afterwards 
it was anybody but him. His grumbling was got over 
by the Tuesday morning, and he was as eager as any 
of us. He went about in his open nankeen coat and 
straw hat, puffing and blowing, and saying he hoped we 
should relish it — he wouldn't dance in the dog-days. 

" I should like to see you dance in any days now, 
sir," cried Tod. 

" You impudent rascals ! You must laugh, too, 
must you, Johnny! I can tell you young fellows 
what — you'll neither of you dance a country dance as 
we'd used to do it. You should have seen us at the 
wake. Once when we militia chaps were at the 
Ram, at Gloucester, for a week's training, we gave a 
ball there, and footed it till daylight. ' We bucks at 
the Eam ; ' that's what we called ourselves : but most 
of us are dead and gone now. Look here, boys," con- 
tinued the pater after a pause, "I'll have the choice 
plants brought into the hall. If we knock up a few 
sconces for candles on the walls, their colours will 
show out well." 

He went out to talk to Roger Monk about it. Mrs. 
Todhetley was in the kitchen over the creams and 
jellies and things, fit to faint with heat. Jenkins, the 



ROGER MONK. 247 

head-gardener, was back then, but he was stiff yet, 
not likely to be of permanent good ; so Roger Monk 
was kept on as chief. Under the pater's direction the 
sets of green steps were brought in and put on either 
side of the hall, as many sets as there was space for; 
and the plants were arranged upon them. 

I'd tell you the different sorts but that you might 
think it tedious. They were choice and beautiful. 
Mr. Todhetley took pride in his flowers, and spared 
no expense. Geraniums of all colours, tulips, brilliant 
roses, the white lily and the purple iris ; and the rarer 
flowers, with hard names that nobody can spell. It 
was like a lovely garden, rising tier upon tier; a 
grove of perfume that the guests would pass through. 
They managed the wax-lights Avell ; and the colours, 
pink, white, violet, green, orange, purple, scarlet, blue, 
shone out as the old east window in Worcester 
Cathedral used to do when it sparkled in the morning 
sun. 

It went off first-rate. Some of the supper sweet 
dishes fell out of shape with the heat ; but they were 
just as good to eat. In London, the thing you call 
" society " is made up of form and coldness, and arti- 
ficialism ; with us county people it is honest open- 
ness. There, any failure on the table is looked away 
from, not supposed to be seen ; at the supper at Squire 
Todhetley's the tumble-down dishes were introduced 
as a topic of regret. " And to think it should be so, 
after all the pains I bestowed on them ! " added Mrs. 
Todhetley, not hesitating to say that she had been the 
confectioner and pastry-cook. 

But it is not of the party I have to tell you. It 
was jolly ; and everyone said what a prime ball-room 



248 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

the laundry made. I dare say if we had been London 
fashionables we should have called it the '' library," 
and made believe we'd had the books taken out. 

Getting ready for company is delightful ; but putting- 
things to rights the next day is rather another thing. 
The plants were carried back to their places again in 
the greenhouse — a large, long, commodious green- 
house — and appeared none the worse for their show^ 
The old folks, whose dancing-days were over, had 
spent half the night in the cool hall, admiring these 
beautiful plants ; and the pater told this to Roger 
Monk as he stood with him in the greenhouse after 
they were put back. I was there, too. 

^^I'm glad they were admired, sir," said Monk in 
answer. " I've taken pains with them, and I think 
they do the Manor credit." 

" Well, truth to say. Monk, it's a better and brighter 
collection than Jenkins ever got. But you must not 
tell him I say so. I do take a pride in my green- 
house; my father did before me. I remember your 
mother spending a day here once, Johnny, before you 
were born, and she said of all the collections in the 
two counties of Warwick and Worcester, ours was 
the finest. It came up to Lord Coventry's; not as 
large, of course, but the plants in the same prime con- 
dition," 

" Yes, sir : I've seen the conservatories at Groome," 
returned Monk, who generally went in for large 
names. 

" The late Lord Coventry — Yes ! Here ! Who's 
calling ? " 

Tod's voice outside, shouting for the Squire, caused 
the break. He had got Mr. Dufi'ham with him ; who 



ROGER MONK. 249 

wanted to ask about some parish business ; and they 
came to the greenhouse. 

So that made another admirer. Old Duff turned 
himself and his cane about, saying the colours looked 
brighter by daylight than waxlight ; and he had not 
thought it possible the night before that they could 
do it. He stole a piece of geranium to put in his 
button-hole. 

''By the way, Monk, when are you going over to 
Evesham about those seeds and things ? " asked the 
Squire, as he was departing with old Duff, 
i " I can go when you like, sir." 

''Go to-morrow, then. Start with the cool of the 
morning. Jenkins can do what has to be done, for 
once. You had better take the light cart." 

*' Very well, sir," answered Monk. But he had 
never once looked in the Squire's face as he answered. 

The next morning was Thursday. Tod and I were 
up betimes to go fishing. There was a capital stream 
—but IVe not time for that now. It was striking 
six as we went out of the house, and the first thing 
I saw was Jenkins coming along, his face as white 
as a sheet. He was a big man once, of middle 
height, but thin and stooping since, his last bout of 
rheumatism ; grey whiskers, blue eyes, and close upon 
fifty. 

" I say. Tod, look at old Jenkins ! He must be ill 
again.'' 

Not ill but frightened. His lips were of a bluey 
grey, like one whom some great terror has scared. 
Tod stared as he came nearer, for they were trembling 
as well as blue. 

" What's up, Jenkins ? '^ 



250 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' I don't know what, Mr. Joe. The devil has been 
at work." 

" Whereabouts ? '' asked Tod. 

" Come and see, sir.'' 

He turned back towards the greenhouse, but not 
another word would he say, only pointed to it. Leaving 
the fishing-rods on the path, we set off to run. 

Never had I seen such a scene before ; as I told you 
at the beginning. The windows were shut, every 
crevice where a breath of air might enter seemed to 
be hermetically closed ; a smell as of some sulphurous 
acid pervaded the air ; and the whole show of plants 
had turned to ruin. 

A wreck complete. Colour was gone; leaves and 
stems were gone; the sweet perfume was gone; 
nothing remained, so to say, but the pots. It was as 
if some burning blast had passed through the green- 
house, withering to death every plant that stood in it, 
and the ripening grapes above. 

'^ What on earth can have done this ? '' cried Tod to 
Jenkins, when he was able to speak. 

" Well, Mr. Joseph, I say nothing covbld have done 
it but the " 

^' Don't talk rubbish about the devil, Jenkins. He 
does not work in quite so practical a way. Open the 
windows.'^ 

'' I was on by half-past five, sir, not coming here at 
first, but '^ 

"Where's Monk this morning ?" again interrupted 
Tod, who had turned imperative. 

" The Squire sent him over to Evesham for the 
seeds. I heard him go by in the light cart." 

'' Sent him when ? " 



EOGER MONK. 251 

"" Yesterday, I suppose; that is, told him to go. 
Monk came to me last evening and said I must be on 
early. He started betimes; it was long afore five 
when I heard the cart go by. I should know the 
rattle of that there light cart anywhere, Mr. Joe." 

''Never mind the cart. What has done this ? " 

That was the question. What had done it ? Some 
blasting poison must have been set to burn in the 
greenhouse. Such substances might be common 
enough, but we knew nothing of them. We examined 
the place pretty carefully, but not a trace of any 
proof was discovered. 

" What's this ? " cried out Jenkins, presently. 

Some earthenware pot-stands were stacked on the 
ground at the far end of the greenhouse — Mrs. Tod- 
hetley always called them saucers — Jenkins had been 
taking two or three of the top ones off, and came upon 
one that contained a small portion of some soft, white, 
damp substance, smelling just like the smell that 
pervaded the greenhouse — a suffocating smell that 
choked you. Some sulphuric acid was in the tool- 
house ; Tod fetched the bottle, poured a little on the 
stuff, and set it alight. 

Instantly a white smoke arose, and a smell that sent 
ns off. Jenkins, looking at it as if it were alive and 
going to bite him, carried it at arm's length out to the 
nearest bed, and heaped mould upon it. 

" That has done it, Mr. Joseph. But I should like 
to know what the white stuff is. It's some subtle 
poison." 

We took the stack of pot-stands off one by one. 
Six or eight of them were perfectly clean, as if just 
wiped out. Jenkins gave his opinion again. 



252 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'•' Them clean saucers have all had the stuff burning 
in 'em this night, and they've done their work well. 
Somebody, which it must be the villain himself, has 
been in and cleaned 'em out, overlooking one of 'em. 
I can be upon my word the stands were all dusty 
enough last Tuesday, when the greenhouse was emptied 
for the ball, for I stacked 'em myself one upon 
another." 

Tod took up his perch on the edge of the shut-in 
brick stove, and surveyed the wreck. There was not 
a bit of green life remaining, not a semblance of it. 
When he had done looking he stared at me, then at 
Jenkins ; it was his way when puzzled or perplexed. 

" Have you seen anybody about here this morning, 
Jenkins ? " 

" Not a soul," responded Jenkins, ruefully. '' I was 
about the beds and places at first, and when I came 
up here and opened the door, the smoke and smell 
knocked me back'ards. When I see the plants — least- 
ways what was the plants — with their leaves and 
blossoms and stems all black and blasted, I says to 
myself, ' The devil must have been in here ; ' and I 
was on my way to tell the master so when you two 
young gents met me." 

" But it's time some of them were about," cried Tod. 
'' Where's Drew ? Is he not come ? " 

'* Drew be hanged for a lazy vagabond ! " retorted 
old Jenkins. " He never comes on much afore seven, 
he doesn't. Monk threatened last week to get his 
wages stopped for him. I did stop 'em once, afore I 
was iU." 

Drew was the under-gardener, an active young 
fellow of nineteen. There was a boy as well, but it 



EOGER MONK. 253 

happened that he was away just now. Almost as 
Jenkins spoke, Drew came in view, leaping along 
furiously towards the vegetable garden, as though he 
knew he was late. 
^ " Halloa, Drew ! " ' 

He recognized Tod's voice, turned, and came into 
the greenhouse. His look of amazement would have 
made a picture. 

'^ Sakes alive ! Jenkins, what have done this ? " 

'' Do you know anything about it, Drew ? " asked 
Tod. 

" Me, sir ? " answered Drew, turning his wide-open 
eyes on Tod, in surprise at the question. '' I don't as 
much as know what it is!' 

"Mr. Joe, I think the master ought to be told of 
this," said Jenkins. "As well get it over." 

He meant the explosion of wrath that was sure to 
come when the Squire saw the ravages. Tod never 
stirred. Who was to tell him ? It was like the mice 
proposing to bell the cat : nobody offered to do it. 

" You go, Johnny," said Tod, by-and-by. " Perhaps 
he's getting up now." 

I went. I always did what he ordered me, and 
heard Mrs. Todhetley in her dressing-room. She had 
her white petticoats on, doing her hair. When I told 
her, she just backed into a chair and turned as white 
as Jenkins. 

'' What's that, Johnny ? " roared out the Squire from 
his bed. I hadn't noticed that the door between the 
rooms was open. 

" Something is wrong in the greenhouse, sir." 

" Something wrong in the greenhouse 1 What d'ye 
mean, lad ? " 



254 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

''He says the plants are spoiled, and the grapes/' 
interrupted Mrs. Todhetley, to help me. 

" Plants and grapes spoiled ! You must be out of 
your senses, Johnny, to say such a thing. What has 
spoiled them ? " 

" It looks like some — blight/' I answered, pitching 
upon the word. '' Everything's dead and blackened.'' 

Downstairs I rushed for fear he should ask more. 
And down came the pater after me, hardly anything 
on, so to say ; not shaved, and his nankeen coat flying 
behind him. 

I let him go on to get the burst over. When I 
reached them, they were talking about the key. It 
was customary for the head-gardener to lock the 
greenhouse at night. For the past month or so there 
had been, as may be said, two head-gardeners, and the 
key had been left on the ledge at the back of the 
greenhouse, that whichever of them came on first in 
the morning might get in. 

The Squire stormed at this — ^with that scene before 
his eyes he was ready to storm at everything. Pretty 
gardeners, they were ! leaving the key where any 
tramp, hiding about the premises for a night's lodging, 
might get into the greenhouse and steal what he 
chose ! As good leave the key in the door, as hang it 
up outside it ! The world had nothing but fools in it, 
as he believed, 

Jenkins answered with deprecation. The key was not 
likely to be found by anybodybutthose that knew where 
to look for it. It always had a flower-pot turned down 
upon it ; and so he had found it that morning. 

''If all the tramps within ten miles got into the 
greenhouse, sir, they'd not do this," affirmed Tod. 



KOGER MONK. 255 

'' Hold your tongue/' said the Squire ; '' what do you 
know about tramps ? IVe known them to do the 
wickedest things conceivable. My beautiful plants ! 
And look at the grapes ! I've never had a finer crop 
of grapes than this was, Jenkins," concluded the pater, 
in a culminating access of rage. '' If I find this has 
arisen through any neglect of yours and Monk's, I'll— 
I'll hang you both." 

The morning went on ; breakfast was over, and the 
news of the strange calamity spread. Old Jones, 
the constable, had been sent for by the Squire. He 
stared, and exclaimed, and made his comments; but 
he was not any the nearer hitting upon the guilty- 
man. 

About ten, Roger Monk got home from Evesham. 
We heard the spring-cart go round to the stables, and 
presently he appeared in the gardens, looking at 
objects on either side of the path, as was his usual 
wont. Then he caught sight of us, standing in and 
about the greenhouse, and came on faster. Jenkins 
was telling the story of his discovery to Mr. Duffham. 
He had told it a good fifty times since early morning 
to as many different listeners. 

They made way for Monk to come in, nobody 
saying a word. The pater stood inside, and Monk, 
touching his hat, was about to report to him of his 
journey, when the strange aspect of aflfairs seemed to 
strike him dumb. He looked round with a sort of 
startled gaze at the walls, at the glass and grapes 
above, at the destroyed plants, and then turned 
savagely on Jenkins, speaking hoarsely. 

^' What have you been up to here ? '' 

*' Me been up to ! That's good, that is ! What had 



256 JOHNNY LUDLOW, 

you been up to afore you went off? You had the 
first chance. Come, Mr. Monk." 

The semi-accusation was spoken by Jenkins on the 
spur of the moment, in his anger at the other's words. 
Monk was in a degree Jenkins's protege, and it had 
not previously occurred to him that he could be in 
any way to blame. i 

"What do you know of this wicked business, 
Monk ? " asked the Squire. i 

'' What should I know of it, sir ? I have only just 
come in from Evesham. The things were all right 
last night." 

" How did you leave the greenhouse last night ? '' 

"Exactly as I always leave it, sir. There was 
nothing the matter with it then. Drew — I saw him 
outside, didn't I ? Step here. Drew. You were with 
me when I locked up the greenhouse last night. Did 
you see anything wrong with it ? " 

" It were right enough then," answered Drew. 

Monk turned himself about, lifting his hands in 
dismay, as one blackened object after another came 
under view. " I never saw such a thing ! " he cried 
piteously. " There has been something wrong at 
work here ; or else " 

Monk came to a sudden pause. " Or else what ? " 
asked the Squire. 

" Or else, moving the plants into the hall on Tuesday 
has killed them." 

" Moving the plants wouldn't kill them. What are 
you thinking of, Monk ? " 

" Moving them would not kill them, sir, or hurt them 
either," returned Monk, with a stress on the first word ; 
" but it might have been the remote cause of it." 



ROGEK MONK. 257 

'' I don't understand you ! " 

" I saw some result of the sort once, sir. It v/as at 
a gentleman's place at Chiswick. All the choice plants 
were taken indoors to improvise a kind of conservatory 
for a night fete. They were carried back the next 
day, seemingly none the worse, and on the morrow 
were found withered." 

^•' Like these?" 

'' No, sir, not so bad as these. They didn't die ; 
they revived after a time. A great fuss was made 
over it; the gentleman thought it must be wilful 
damage, and offered twenty pounds reward for the 
discovery of the offenders. At last it was found they 
had been poisoned by the candles." 

'' Poisoned by the candles ! " 

" A new sort of candle, very beautiful to look at, but 
with a great quantity of arsenic in it," continued Monk. 
'^ A scientific man gave it as his opinion that the poison 
thrown out from the candles had been fatal to the plants. 
Perhaps something of the same kind has done the mis- 
chief here, sir. Plants are such delicate things ! " 

'' And what has been fatal to the grapes ? They 
were not taken into the house." 

The question came from the surgeon, Mr. Duffliam. 
He had stood all the while against the end of the far 
steps, looking fixedly at Monk over the top of his 
cane. Monk put his eyes on the grapes above, and 
kept them there while he answered. 

" True, sir ; the grapes, as you say, didn't go in. 
Perhaps the poison brought back by the plants may 
have acted on them." 

"Now, I tell you what, Monk, I think that's all 
nonsense," cried the Squire, testily. 

Johnny Ludlow. — Y. 17 



258 . JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

" Well, sir, I don't see any other way of accounting 
for this state of things." 

'' The greenhouse was filled with some suffocating, 
smelling, blasting stuff that knocked me back'ards," 
put in Jenkins. '' Every crack and crevice was stopped 
where a breath of air could have got in. I wish it 
had been you to find it ; you'd not have liked to be 
smothered alive, I know.'' 

" I wish it had been," said Monk. " If there was 
any such thing here, and not your fancy, I'll be bound 
I'd have traced it out." 

" Oh, would you ! Did you do anything to them 
there pot-stands ? " continued Jenkins, pointing to 
them. 

"No." 

'' Oh ! Didn't clean 'em out ? " 

" I wiped a few out on Wednesday morning before 
we brought back the plants. Somebody — Drew, I 
suppose — had stacked them in the wrong place. In 
putting them right, I began to wipe them. I didn't 
do them all; I was called away." 

"'Twas me stacked 'em," said Jenkins. "Well — 
them stands are what had held the poison ; I found 
a'most one-half of 'em filled with it." 

Monk cast a rapid glance around. ^' What was the 
poison ? " he asked. 

Jenkins grunted, but gave no other reply. The 
fact was, he had been so abused by the Squire for 
having put away the trace of the " stuff," that it was 
a sore subject. 

" Did you come on here. Monk, before you started 
for Evesham this morning ? " questioned the Squire. 

"I didn't come near the gardens, sir. I had told 



EOGER MONK. 259 

Jenkins last night to be on early," replied Monk, 
bending over a blackened row of plants while he 
spoke. " I went the back way to the stables through 
the lane, had harnessed the horse to the cart, and was 
away before five," 

We quitted the greenhouse. The pater went out 
with Mr. Duffham, Tod and I followed. I, looking 
quietly on, had been struck with the contrast of 
manner between old Duff and Monk — he peering at 
Monk with his searching gaze, never once taking it 
off him ; and Monk meeting nobody's eyes, but shifting 
his own anywhere rather than meet them. 

''About this queer arsenic tale Monk tells ?" began 
the Squire, '' Is there anything in it ? Will it hold 
water ? " 

'' Moonshine ! " said old Duff, with emphasis. 

The tone was curious, and we all looked at him. 
He had got his lips drawn in, and the top of his cane 
pressing them. 

'' Where did you take Monk from, Squire ? Get 
a good character with him ? " 

''Jenkins brought him here. As to character, he 
had never been in any situation before. Why ? Do 
you suspect him ? " 

" Um-m-m ! " said the doctor, prolonging the sound 
as though in doubt. "If I do suspect him, he has 
caused me to. I never saw such a shifty manner in 
all my life. Why, he never once looked at any of us ! 
His eyes are false, and his tones are false ! '' 

" His tones ? Do you mean his words ? " 

" I mean the tone his words are spoken in. To an 
apt ear, the sound of a man's voice, or woman's either, 
can be read off like a book ; a man's voice is honest or 



260 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

dishonest according to his nature; and you can't 
make a mistake about it. Monk's has a false ring in 
it, if ever I heard one. Now, master Johnny, what 
are you looking so eager about ? " 

'' I think Monk's voice false, too, Mr. Duff ham ; I 
have thought himself false all along. Tod knows I 
have." 

" I know that you are just a muff, Johnny, going in 
for prejudices against people unreasonably," said Tod, 
putting me down as usual. 

Old Duff pushed my straw hat up, and passed his 
fingers over the top of my forehead. "Johnny, my 
boy," he said, '' you have a strong and good indication 
here for reading the world. Trust to it!' 

" I couldn't trust Monk. I never have trusted him. 
That was one reason why I suspected him of stealing 
the things the magpie took." 

'' Well, you were wrong there," said Tod. 

''Yes. But I'm nearly sure I y/as right in the thing 
before." 

" What thing ? " demanded old Duff, sharply. 

"Well, I thought it was Monk that frightened 
Phoebe." 

''Oh," said Mr. Duff ham. "Dressed himself up in 
a sheet, and whitened his face, and went up the 
lane when the women were watching for the shadows 
on St. Mark's Eve ! What else do you suspect, 
Johnny ? " 

"Nothing else, sir; except that I fancied Mother 
Picker knew of it. When Tod and I went to ask 
her whether Monk was out that night, she looked 
frightened to death, and broke a basin." 

" Did she say he was out ? " 



ROGER MONK. 261 

'' She said he was not out ; but I thought she said 
it more eagerly than truthfully." 

" Squire, when you are in doubt as to people's 
morals, let this boy read them for you,'' said old Duff, 
in his quaint way. The Squire, thinking of his plants, 
looked as perplexed as could be. 

" It is such a thing, you know, Duffham, to have 
one's whole hothouse destroyed in a night. It's no 
better than arson." 

"And the incendiary who did it would have no 
scruple in attacking the barns next; therefore, he 
must be bowled out." 

The pater looked rueful. He could bluster and 
threaten, but he could not do much ; he never knew 
how to set about it. In all emergencies he would 
send for Jones — the greatest old woman going. 

"You don't seriously think it could have been 
Monk, Duffham?" 

" I think there's strong suspicion that it was. Look 
here : " and the doctor began to tell off points with his 
cane and fingers. " Somebody goes into the green- 
house to set the stuff alight in the pot-stands — for 
that's how it was done. Monk and Jenkins alone 
knew where the key was ; Jenkins, a trusty man, 
years in the employ, comes on at six and finds the 
state of things. Where's Monk ? Gone off by previous 
order to Evesham at five. Why should it happen the 
very morning he was away ? What was to prevent 
his stealing into the greenhouse after dark last night 
putting his deleterious stuff to work, leaving it to 
burn, and stealing in again at four this morning to 
put all traces away ? He thought he cleaned out all 
the tale-telling earthen saucers, but he overlooks one, 



262 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

as is usually the case. When he comes back, finding 
the wreck and the commotion consequent upon it, he 
relates a glib tale of other plants destroyed by arsenic 
from candles, and he never looks honestly into a single 
face as he tells it ! " 

The Squire drew a deep breath. "And you say 
Monk did all this?'' 

" Nonsense, Squire. I say he might have done it. 
I say, moreover, that it looks very like it. Putting 
Monk aside, your scent would be wholly at fault." 

'' What is to be done ? " 

" 111 go and see Mother Picker ; she can tell what 
time he went in last night, and what time he came 
out this morning," cried Tod, who was just as hasty 
as the pater. But old Duff caught him as he was 
vaulting off. 

" I had better see Mother Picker. Will you let me 
act in this matter, Squire, and see what can be made 
of it?" 

" Do, Duff ham. Take Jones to help you ? " 

*' Jones be shot," returned Duff in a passion. '' If I 
wanted any one — which I don't — I'd take Johnny. 
He is worth fifty Joneses. Say nothing — nothing at 
all. Do you understand ? " 

He went off down a side path, and crossed Jenkins, 
who was at work now. Monk stayed in the green- 
house. 

'' This is a sad calamity, Jenkins." 

" It's the worst I ever met with, sir," cried Jenkins, 
touching his hat. '' And what have done it is the odd 
thing. Monk, he talks of the candles poisoning of 
'em ; but I don't know." 

" Well, there's not a much surer poison than arsenic, 



ROGER MONK. 263 

Jenkins/' said the doctor, candidly. " I hope it will be 
cleared up. Monk, too, has taken so much pains with 
the plants. He is a clever young man in his vocation. 
Where did you hear of him ? '' 

Jenkins's answer was a long one. Curtailed, it 
stated that he had heard of Monk '' promiskeous." 
He had thought him a gentleman till he asked if he, 
Jenkins, could help him to a place as ornamental 
gardener. He had rather took to the young man, and 
recommended the Squire to employ him " temporay," 
for he, Jenkins, was just then falling sick with 
rheumatism. 

" Mr. DuflFham nodded approvingly. " Didn t think 
it necessary to ask for references ? " 

'' Monk said he could give me a cart-load a'most of 
them, sir, if I'd wanted to see 'em." 

"Just so! Good-day, Jenkins, I can't stay gossip- 
ing my morning away." 

He went straight to Mrs. Picker's, and caught her 
taking her luncheon off the kitchen-table — bread-and- 
cheese, and perry. 

'' It's a little cask o' last year's my son have made me 
a present of, sir ; if you'd be pleased to drink a cup. 
Dr. Duff m," said she, hospitably. 

She drew a half-pint cup full; bright, sparkling, 
full-bodied perry, never better made in Gloucestershire. 
Mr. Duffham smacked his lips, and wished some of the 
champagne at gentlemen's tables was half as good. 
He talked, and she talked; and, it may be, he took 
her a little off her guard. Evidently, she was not 
cognizant of the mishap to the greenhouse. 

A nice young man that lodger of hers ? Well, yes, 
he was ; steady and well-conducted. Talked quite 



2G4 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

like a gentleman, but wasn't uppish 'cause o' that, and 
seemed satisfied with all she did for him. He was 
gone off to Evesham after seeds and other things. 
Squire Todhetley put great confidence in him. 

" Ay/' said Mr. Dufi*ham, " to be sure. . One does 
put confidence in steady young men, you know, Goody. 
He was off* by four o'clock, wasn't he ? " 

Earlier nor that. Goody Picker thought. Monk 
were one o' them who liked to take time by the fore- 
lock, and get his extra work forrard when he were 
put on to any. 

''Nothing like putting the shoulder to the wheel. 
This is perry ! The next time I call to see your son 
Peter, at Alcester, I shall ask him if he can't get some 
for me. As to Monk — you might have had young 
fellows here who'd have idled their days away, and 
paid no rent, Goody. Monk was at his work late last 
night, too, I fancy ? " 

Goody fancied he had been ; leastways he went out 
after supper, and were gone an hour or so. What with 
the fires, and what with the opening and shutting o' 
the winders to keep the hot-houses at proper temper- 
ture, an head-gardener didn't sit on a bed o' idle roses, 
as Dr. Duff"m knew. 

Mr. Duff*ham was beginning to make pretty sure of 
winning his game. His manner suddenly changed. 
Pushing the empty cup from him, he leaned forward, 
and laid hold of Mrs. Picker by the two wrists. 
Between the perry and the doctor's sociability and 
Monk's merits, her eyes had begun to sparkle. 

''Don't be alarmed, Mrs. Picker. I have come here 
to ask you a question, and yovb must answer me. But 
you have nothing to fear on your own score, provided 



ROGER MONK. 265 

you tell me the truth honestly. Young men will do 
foolish things, however industrious they may be. Why 
did Monk play that prank on Easter Monday ? " 

The sparkle in the eyes faded with fright. She 
would have got away, but could not, and so put on an 
air of wonder. 

"On Easter Monday! What were it he did on 
Easter Monday ? " . 

"When he put himself and his face into white, and 
went to the churchyard by moonlight to represent the 
dead, you know, Mrs. Picker." 

She gave a shrill scream, got one of her hands loose 
and flung it up to her face. 

"Come, Goody, you had better answer me quietly 
than be taken to confess before Squire Todhetley. I 
dare say you were not to blame." 

Afore Squire Todhetley ! 0-o-o-o-o-h ! Did they 
know it at the Manor ? 

" Well," said Mr. Duflfham, " you see I know it, and 
I have come straight from there. Now then, my 
good woman, I have not much time.'^ 

Goody Picker s will was good to hold out longer, but 
she surrendered a coup de main, as so many of us have 
to do when superior power is brought to bear. Monk 
overheered it, was the substance of her answer. On 
coming in from work that there same blessed evening 
— and look at him now ! at his work on a Easter 
Monday till past dark ! — he overheered the two 
servants, Molly and Hannah, talking of what they was 
going out to watch for — the shadows in the church- 
yard. He let 'em go, never showing hisself till they'd 
left the house. Then he got the sheets from his bed, 
and put the flour on his face, and went on there to 



^m JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

frighten 'em ; all in fun. He never thought of hurting 
the women ; he never knowed as the young girl, Phoebe, 
was to be there. Nobody could be more sorry for it 
nor he was ; but he'd never meant to do harm more 
nor a babby unborn. 

Mr. Duffham released the hands. Looking back in 
reflection, he had little doubt it was as she said — that 
Monk had done it out of pure sport, not intending ill. 

" He might have confessed : it would have been 
more honest. And you ! why did you deny that it 
was Monk ? " 

Mrs. Picker at first could only stare in reply. Con- 
fess to it ? Him ? What, and run the risk o' being 
put into ancuffs by that there Jones with his fat legs ? 
And she ! a poor old widder ? If Monk went and 
said he didn't do it, she couldn't go and say he did. 
Doctor Duff"m might see as there were no choice left 
for her. Never should she forget the fright when the 
two young gents come in with their querries the next 
day ; her fingers was took with the palsy and dropped 
the pudd'n basin, as she'd had fifteen year. Monk, 
poor fellow, .couldn't sleep for a peck o' nights after, 
thinking o' Phoebe. 

'' There ; that's enough," said Mr. Duff*ham. '' Who 
is Monk ? Where does he come from ? " 

From the moon, for all Mrs. Picker knew. A ci viler 
young man she'd not wish to have lodging with her ; 
paid reg'lar as the Saturdays come round; but he 
never told her nothing about hisself 

'' Which is his room ? The one at the back, I 
suppose." 

Without saying with your leave, or by your leave, 
as Mrs. Picker phrased it in telling the story a long 



BOGER MONK. 267 

while afterwards, Mr. Duffham penetrated at once 
into the lodger's room. There he took the liberty of 
making a slight examination, good Mrs. Picker stand- 
ing by with round eyes and open mouth. And what 
he discovered caused him to stride off at once to the 
pater. 

Roger Monk was not Monk* at all, but somebody 
else. He had been implicated in some crime (whether 
guilty or not remained yet a question), and to avoid 
exposure had come away into this quiet locality under 
a false name. In short, during the time he had been 
working as gardener at Dyke Manor and living at 
Mother Picker's, he was in hiding. As the son of 
a well-known and most respectable landscape and 
ornamental nursery-man, he had become thoroughly 
conversant with the requisite duties. 

" They are fools, at the best, these fellows," remarked 
Duffham, as he finished his narrative. " A letter 
written to him by some friend betrayed to me all this. 
Now why should not Monk have destroyed that 
letter, instead of keeping it in his room. Squire ? " 

The Squire did not answer. All he could do just 
now was to wipe his hot face and try to get over 
his amazement. Monk not a gardener or servant at 
all, but an educated man! Only living there to 
hide from the police; and calling himself by any 
name that came uppermost — which happened to be 
Monk ! 

'' I must say there's a certain credit due to him for 
his patient industry, and the perfection to which he 
has brought your grounds," said Mr. Duffham. 

'^And for blighting all my hot-house plants at a 
blow — is there credit due to him for that ? " roared 



268 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

out the Squire. '' I'll have him tried for it, as sure as 
my name's Todhetley." 

It was easier said than done. For when Mr. Jones, 
receiving his private orders from the pater, went, staff 
in hand, to arrest Monk, that gentleman had already 
departed. 

^'He come into the house just as Dr. Duff'm left 
it," explained Mrs. Picker. " Saying he had got to 
take a short journey, he put his things into his port- 
manty, and went off carrying of it, leaving me a 
week's rent on the table." 

'' Go and catch him, Jones," sternly commanded the 
Squire, when the constable came back with the above 
news. 

"Yes, your w^orship," replied Jones. But how he 
was to do it, taking the gouty legs into consideration, 
was quite a different thing. 

The men were sent off various ways. And came 
back again, not having come up with Monk. Squire 
Todhetley went into a rage, abused old Jones, and told 
him he was no longer worth his salt. But the strangest 
thing occurred in the evening. 

The pater walked over to the Court after tea, carry- 
ing the grievance of his destroyed plants to the 
Sterlings. In coming up Dj^ke Lane as he returned 
at night, where it was always darker than in other 
places because the trees hid the moonlight, somebody 
seemed to walk right out of the hedge upon him. 

It was Roger Monk. He raised his hat to the 
Squire as a gentleman does — did not touch it as a 
gardener— and began pleading for clemency. 

'^ Clemency, after destroying a whole hot-houseful 
of rare plants ! " cried the Squire. 



ROGER MONK. 269 

"I never did it, sir/' returned Monk, passionately. 
" On my word as a man — I will not to you say as 
a gentleman — if the plants were not injured by the 
candles, as I fully believe, I know not how they could 
have been injured." 

The pater was staggered. At heart he was the best 
man living. Suppose Monk %vas innocent ? 

''Look here, Monk. You know your name is " 

''Hush, sir!" interposed Monk, hastily, as if to 
prevent the hedges hearing the true name. " It is of 
that I have waited to speak to you ; to beseech your 
clemency. I have no need to crave it in the matter 
of plants which I never harmed. I want to ask you 
to be silent, sir; not to proclaim to the world that 
I am other than what I appeared to be. A short 
while longer and I should have been able to prove 
my innocence ; things are working round. But if you 
set the hue-and-cry upon me '' 

" Were you innocent ? " interposed the Squire. 

" I was ; I swear it to you. Oh, Mr. Todhetley, 
think for a moment ! I am not so very mucK older 
than your son ; he is not more innocent than I was ; 
but it might happen that he — I crave your pardon, 
sir, but it mig^A^— that he should become the com- 
panion of dissipated young men, and get mixed up 
unwittingly in a disgraceful aflfair, whose circumstances 
were so complicated that he could only fly for a time 
and hide himself. What would you say if the people 
with whom he took refuge, whether as servant or else, 
were to deliver him up to justice, and he stood before 
the world an accused felon ? Sir, it is my case. Keep 
my secret ; keep my secret, Mr. Todhetley." 

"And couldn't you prove your innocence?" cried 



270 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

the Squire, as he followed out the train of ideas 
suggested. 

''Not at present — that I see. And when once a 
man has stood at a criminal bar, it is a ban on him for 
life, although it may be afterwards shown he stood 
there wrongly/' 

" True,'' said the Squire, softening. 

Well — for there's no space to go on at length — the 
upshot was that Monk went away with a promise; 
and the Squire came home to the Manor and told 
Duffham, who was waiting there, that they must both 
be silent. Only those two knew of the discovery; 
they had kept the particulars and Monk's real name 
to themselves. Duff gave his head a toss, and told 
the pater he was softer than old Jones. 

" How came you to suspect him, Johnny ? " he con- 
tinued, turning on me in his sharp way. 

'' I think just for the same things that you did, Mr. 
Duffham — because neither his face nor his voice is 
true!' 

And — remembering his look of revenge when accused 
in mistake for the magpie — I suspected him still. 



THE EBONY BOX. 



In one or two of the papers already written for you, 
I have spoken of "Lawyer Cockermuth/' as he was 
usually styled by his fellow-townspeople at Worcester. 
I am now going to tell of something that happened in 
his family; that actually did happen, and is no in- 
vention of mine. 

Lawyer Cockermuth's house stood in the Foregate 
Street. He had practised in it for a good many 
years ; he had never married, and his sister lived with 
him. She had been christened Betty ; it was a more 
common name in those days than it is in these. There 
was a younger brother named Charles. They were 
tall, wiry men with long arms and legs. John, the 
lawyer, had a smiling, homely face ; Charles was hand- 
some, but given to be choleric. 

Charles had served in the militia once, and had 
been ever since called Captain Cockermuth. When 
only twenty-one he married a young lady with a good 
bit of money ; he had also a small income of his own ; 
so he abandoned the law, to which he had been bred, 
and lived as a gentleman in a pretty little house on 
the outskirts of Worcester. His wife died in the 
course of a few years, leaving him with one child, a 
son, named Philip. The interest of Mrs. Charles 



272 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Cockermutli's money would be enjoyed by her husband 
until his death, and then would go to Philip. 

When Philip left school he was articled to his uncle, 
Lawyer Cockermuth, and took up his abode with him. 
Captain Cockermuth (who was of a restless disposition, 
and fond of roving), gave up his house then and went 
travelling about. Philip Cockermuth was a very nice 
steady young fellow, and his father was liberal to him 
in the way of pocket-money, allowing him a guinea 
a-week. Every Monday morning Lawyer Cockermuth 
handed (for his brother) to Philip a guinea in gold ; 
the coin being in use then. Philip spent most of this 
in books, but he saved some of it ; and by the time 
he was of age he had sixty golden guineas put aside 
in a small round black box of carved ebony. ^' What 
are you going to do with it, Philip ? " asked Miss 
Cockermuth, as he brought it down from his room to 
show her. "I don't know what yet. Aunt Betty," 
said Philip, laughing. " I call it my nest-egg." 

He carried the little black box (the sixty guineas 
quite filled it), back to his chamber and put it back 
into one of the pigeon-holes of the old-fashioned bureau 
which stood in the room, where he always kept it, 
and left it there, the bureau locked as usual. After 
that time, Philip put his spare money, now increased 
by a salary, into the Old Bank ; and it chanced that 
he did not again look at the ebony box of gold, never 
supposing but that it was safe in its hiding-place. On 
the occasion of his marriage some years later, he 
laughingly remarked to Aunt Betty that he must now 
take his box of guineas into use ; and he went up to 
fetch it. The box was not there. 

Consternation ensued. The family flocked upstairs ; 



- THE EBONY BOX. 273 

the lawyer, Miss Betty, and the captain — who had 
come to Worcester for the wedding, and was staying 
in the house — one and all put their hands into the 
deep, dark pigeon-holes, but failed to find the box. 
The captain, a hot-tempered man, flew into a passion 
and swore over it; Miss Betty shed tears; Lawyer 
Cockermuth, always cool and genial, shrugged his 
shoulders and absolutely joked. None of them could 
form the slightest notion as to how the box had gone 
or who was likely to have taken it, and it had to be 
given up as a bad job. 

Philip was married the next day, and left his 
uncle's house for good, having taken one out Barbourne 
way. Captain Cockermuth felt very sore about the 
loss of the box, he strode about Worcester talking of 
it, and swearing that he would send the thief to 
Botany Bay if he could find him. 

A few years more yet, and poor Philip became ill. 
Ill of the disorder which had carried off" his mother — 
decline. When Captain Cockermuth heard that his 
son was lying sick, he being (as usual) on his travels, 
he hastened to Worcester and took up his abode at 
his brother s — always his home on these visits. The 
disease was making very quick progress indeed ; it 
was what is called ''rapid decline." The captain 
called in all the famed doctors of the town — if they 
had not been called before : but there was no hope. 

The day before Philip died, his father spoke to him 
about the box of guineas. It had always seemed to 
the captain that Philip must have, or ought to have, 
some notion of how it went. And he put the question 
to him again, solemnly, for the last time. 

" Father," said the dying man — who retained all his 

Jobnny Ludlow.— V. 18 



274 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

faculties and his speech to the very end — '^ I declare 
to you that I have none. I have never been able to 
set up any idea at all upon the loss, or attach suspicion 
to a soul, living or dead. The two maids were honest ; 
they would not have touched it ; the clerks had no 
opportunity of going upstairs. I had always kept the 
key safely, and you know that we found the lock of 
the bureau had not been tampered with." 

Poor Philip died. His widow and four children 
went to live at a pretty cottage on Malvern Link — 
upon a hundred pounds a-year, supplied to her by her 
father-in-law. Mr. Cockermuth added the best part 
of another hundred. These matters settled. Captain 
Cockermuth set off on his rovings again, considering 
himself hardly used by Fate at having his limited 
income docked of nearly half its value. And yet 
some more years passed on. 

This much has been by way of introduction to what 
has to come. It was best to give it. 

Mr. and Mrs. Jacobson, our neighbours at Dyke 
Manor, had a whole colony of nephews, what with 
brothers' sons and sisters' sons ; of nieces also ; batches 
of them would come over in relays to stay at Elm 
Farm, which had no children of its own. Samson 
Dene was the favourite nephew of all; his mother 
was sister to Mr. Jacobson, his father was dead. 
Samson Reginald Dene he was christened, but most 
people called him " Sam." He had been articled to 
the gentleman who took to his father's practice ; a 
lawyer in a village in Oxfordshire, Later, he had 
gone to a firm in London for a year, had passed, and 
then came down to his uncle at Elm Farm, asking 
what he was to do next. For, upon his brother-in- 



THE EBONY BOX. 275 

law's death, Mr. Jacobson had taken upon himself the 
expenses of Sam, the eldest son. 

*' Want to know what you are to do now, eh ? " cried 
old Jacobson, who was smoking his evening pipe by 
the wide fire of the dark-wainscoted, handsome 
dining-parlour, one evening in February. He was a 
tall, portly man with a fresh-coloured, healthy face ; 
and not, I dare say, far off sixty years old. " What 
would you like to do ? — what is your own opinion 
upon it, Sam ? " 

''I should like to set up in practice for myself, 
uncle/' 

'' Oh, indeed ! In what quarter of the globe, pray ? " 

'' In Worcester. I have always wished to practise 
at Worcester. It is the assize town : I don't care for 
pettifogging places : one can't get on in them." 

"You'd like to emerge all at once into a full-blown 
lawyer there ? That's your notion, is it, Sam ? " 

Sam made no answer. He knew by the tone his 
notion was being laughed at. 

'' No, my lad. When you have been in some good 
office for another year or two maybe, then you might 
think about setting-up. The ofiice can be in Worcester 
if you like." 

" I am hard upon twenty-three, Uncle Jacobson. I 
have as much knowledge of law as I need." 

'' And as much steadiness also, perhaps ? " said old 
Jacobson. 

Sam turned as red as the table-cover. He was a 
frank-looking, slender young fellow of middle height> 
with fine wavy hair almost a gold colour and worn 
of a decent length. The present fashion — to be 
cropped as if you v/ere a prison-bird and to pretend 



276 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

to like it so^ — was not favoured by gentlemen in those 
days. 

'' You may have been acquiring a knowledge of law 
in London, Sam; I hope you have; but youVe been 
kicking up your heels over it. What about those 
sums of money youVe more than once got out of your 
mother ? " 

Sam's face was a deeper red than the cloth now. 
" Did she tell you of it, uncle ? " he gasped. 

" No, she didn't ; she cares too much for her grace- 
less son to betray him. I chanced to hear of it, 
though." 

'' One has to spend so much in London," murmured 
Sam, in lame apology. 

"I dare say! In my past days, sir, a young man 
had to cut his coat according to his cloth. We didn't 
rush into all kinds of random games and then go to 
our fathers or mothers to help us out of them. Which 
is what you've been doing, my gentleman." 

" Does aunt know ? " burst out Saiii in a fright, as 
a step was heard on the stairs. 

''I've not told her," said Mr. Jacobson, listening — 
"she is gone on into the kitchen. How much is it 
that you've left owing in London, Sam ? " 

Sam nearly choked. He did not perceive this was 
just a random shot : he was wondering whether magic 
had been at work. 

'' Left owing in London ? " stammered he. 

*' That's what I asked. How much ? And I mean 
to know. 'Twon't be of any use your fencing about 
the bush. Come ! tell it in a lump." 

"Fifty pounds would cover it all, sir," said Sam, 
driven by desperation into the avowal. 



THE EBONY BOX. 277 

'' I want the truth, Sam." 

'' That is the truth, uncle, I put it all down in a list 
before leaving London; it comes to just under fifty 
pounds." 

" How could you be so wicked as to contract it ? " 

"There has not been much wickedness about it," 
said Sam, miserably, " indeed there hasn't. One gets 
drawn into expenses unconsciously in the most extra- 
ordinary manner up in London. Uncle Jacobson, you 
may believe me or not, when I say that until I added 
it up, I did not think it amounted to twenty pounds 
in all." 

''And then you found it to be fifty ! How do you 
propose to pay this ? " 

" I intend to send it up by instalments, as I can." 

" Instead of doing which, you'll get into deeper debt 
at Worcester. If it's Worcester you go to." 

" I hope not, uncle. I shall do my best to keep out 
of debt. I mean to be steady." 

Mr. Jacobson filled a fresh pipe, and lighted it 
with a spill from the mantelpiece. He did not doubt 
the young fellow's intentions; he only doubted his 
resolution. 

" You shall go into some lawyer's office in Worcester 
for two years, Sam, when we shall see how things turn 
out," said he presently. ''And, look here, I'll pay 
these debts of yours myself, provided you promise me 
not to get into trouble again. There, no more " — inter- 
rupting Sam's grateful looks — " your aunt's coming in." 

Sam opened the door for Mrs. Jacobson. A little 
pleasant-faced woman in a white net cap, with small 
flat silver curls under it. She carried a small basket 
lined with blue silk, in which lay her knitting. 



278 JOHNNYj LUDLOW. 

'^ I've been looking to yonr room, my dear, to see 
that all's comfortable for you/' she said to Sam, as she 
sat down by the table and the candles. ''That new 
housemaid of ours is not altogether to be trusted. I 
suppose you Ve been telling your uncle all about the 
wonders of London ? '* 

''And something else, too," put in old Jacobson 
gruffly. " He wanted to set up in practice for himself 
at Worcester : off-hand, red-hot ! " 

" Oh dear ! " said Mrs. Jacobson. 

" That's what the boy wanted, nothing less. No. 
Another year or two's work in some good house, to 
acquire stability and experience, and then he may talk 
about setting up. It will be all for the best, Sam; 
trust me." 

"Well, uncle, perhaps it will." It was of no use 
for him to say perhaps it won't : he could not help 
himself. But it was a disappointment. 

Mr. Jacobson walked over to Dyke Manor the next 
day, to consult the Squire as to the best lawyer to 
place Sam with, himself suggesting their old friend 
Cockermuth. He described all Sam's wild ways (it 
was how he put it) in that dreadful place, London, 
and the money he had got out of amidst its snares. 
The Squire took up the matter with his usual hearty 
sympathy, and quite agreed that no practitioner in the 
law could be so good for Sam as John Cockermuth. 

John Cockermuth proved to be agreeable. He was 
getting to be an elderly man then, but was active as 
ever, saving when a fit of the gout took him. He 
received young Dene in his usual cheery manner, upon 
the day appointed for his entrance, and assigned him 
his place in the ofKce next to Mr. Parslet. Parslet had 



THE EBONY BOX. 279 

been there more than twenty years ; he was, so to say, 
at the top and tail of all the work that went on in it, 
but he Avas not a qualified solicitor. Samson Dene 
was qualified, and could therefore represent Mr. 
Cockerrnuth before the magistrates and what not ^ of 
which the old lawyer expected to find the benefit. 

" Where are you going to live ? " he questioned of 
Sam that first morning. 

'' I don't know yet, sir. Mr. and Mrs. Jacobson are 
about the town now, I believe, looking for lodgings 
for me. Of course they couldn't let me look ; they'd 
think I should be taken in,'' added Sam. 

" Taken in and done for," laughed the lawyer. ^' I 
should not wonder but Mr. Parslet could accommodate 
you. Can you, Parslet ? " 

Mr. Parslet looked up from his desk, his thin cheeks 
flushing. He was small and slight, with weak brown 
hair, and had a patient, sad sort of look in his face 
and in his meek, dark eyes. 

James Parslet was one of those men who are said to 
spoil their own lives. Left alone early, he was looked 
after by a bachelor uncle, a minor canon of the cathe- 
dral, who perhaps tried to do his duty by him in a 
mild sort of manner. But young Parslet liked to go 
his own ways, and they were not very good ways. He 
did not stay at any calling he was put to, trying first 
one and then another ; either the people got tired of 
him, or he of them. Money (when he got any) burnt 
a hole in his pocket, and his coats grew shabby and his 
boots dirty. " Poor Jamie Parslet ! how he has spoilt 
his life \ " cried the town, shaking its pitying head at 
him: and thus things went on till he grew to be 
nearly thirty years of age. Then, to the public 



280 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

astonishment, Jamie pulled up. He got taken on by 
Lawyer Cockermuth as copying clerk at twenty 
shillings a-week, married, and became as steady as 
Old Time. He had been nothing but steady from that 
day to this, had forty shillings a- week now, instead of 
twenty, and was ever a meek, subdued man, as if he 
carried about with him a perpetual repentance for the 
past, regret for the life that might have been. He 
lived in Edgar Street, which is close to the cathedral, 
as every one knows, Edgar Tower being at the top of 
it. An old gentleman attached to the cathedral had 
now lodged in his house for ten years, occupying the 
drawing-room floor; he had recently died, and hence 
Lawyer Cockermuth's suggestion. 

Mr. Parslet looked up. " I should be happy to, sir," 
he said ; '' if our rooms suited Mr, Dene. Perhaps he 
would like to look at them ? " 

" I will," said Sam. " If my uncle and aunt do not 
fix on any for me." 

Is there any subtle mesmeric power, I wonder, that 
influences things unconsciously ? Curious to say, at 
this very moment Mr. and Mrs. Jacobson were looking 
at these identical rooms. They had driven into 
Worcester with Sam very early indeed, so as to have 
a long day before them, and when breakfast was over 
at the inn, took the opportunity, which they very 
rarely got, of slipping into the cathedral to hear the 
beautiful ten-o'clock service. Coming out the cloister 
way when it was over, and so down Edgar Street, 
Mrs. Jacobson espied a card in a window with 
''Lodgings" on it. "I wonder if they would suit Sam ? " 
she cried to her husband. " Edgar Street is a nice, wide, 
open street, and quiet. Suppose we look at them ? " 



TflE EBONY BOX. 281 

A young servant-maid, called by her mistress 
'' Sally," answered the knock. Mrs. Parslet, a capable, 
bustling woman of ready speech and good manners, 
came out of the parlour, and took the visitors to the 
floor above. They liked the rooms and they liked 
Mrs. Parslet ; they also liked the moderate rent asked, 
for respectable country people in those days did not 
live by shaving one another ; and when it came out 
that the house's master had been clerk to Lawyer 
Cockermuth for twenty years, they settled the matter 
off-hand, without the ceremony of consulting Sam. 
Mrs. Jacobson looked upon Sam as a boy still. Mr. 
Jacobson might have done the same but for the debts 
made in London. 

And all this, you will say, has been yet more ex- 
planation ; but I could not help it. The real thing 
begins now, with Sam Dene's sojourn in Mr. Cocker- 
muth's office, and his residence in Edgar Street. 

The first Sunday of his stay there, Sam went out to 
attend the morning service in the cathedral, con- 
gratulating himself that that grand edifice stood so 
conveniently near, and looking, it must be confessed, 
a bit of a dandy, for he had put a little bunch of 
spring violets into his coat, and " button-holes " were 
quite out of the common way then. The service began 
with the Litany, the earlier service of prayers being 
held at eight o'clock. Sam Dene has not yet forgotten 
that day, for it is no imaginary person I am telling 
you of, and never will forget it. The Reverend Allen 
"Wheeler chanted, and the prebendary in residence 
(Somers Cocks) preached. While wondering when 
the sermon (a very good one) would be over, and 
thinking it rather prosy, after the custom of young 



282 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

men, Sam's roving gaze was drawn to a young lady 
sitting in the long seat opposite to him on the other 
side of the choir, whose whole attention appeared to 
be given to the preacher, to whom her head was 
turned. It is a nice face, thought Sam ; such a sweet 
expression in it. It really was a nice face, rather 
pretty, gentle and thoughtful, a patient look in the 
dark brown eyes. She had on a well-worn dark silk, 
and a straw bonnet ; all very quiet and plain ; but she 
looked very much of a lady. Wonder if she sits there 
always ? thought Sam. 

Service over, he went home, and was about to turn 
the handle of the door to enter (looking another way) 
when he found it turned for him by some one who 
was behind and had stretched out a hand to do it. 
Turning quickly, he saw the same young lady. 

'' Oh, I beg your pardon," said Sam, all at sea ; '' did 
you wish to come in here ? " 

" If you please," she answered — and her voice was 
sweet and her manner modest. 

" Oh," repeated Sam, rather taken aback at the 
answer. " You did not want me, did you ? " 

'' Thank you, it is my home," she said. 

" Your home ? " stammered Sam, for he had not seen 
the ghost of any one in the house yet, saving his land- 
lord and landlady and Sally. " Here ? " 

" Yes. I am Maria Parslet." 

He stood back to let her enter ; a slender, gentle 
girl of middle height ; she looked about eighteen, Sam 
thought (she was that and two years on to it), and he 
wondered where she had been hidden. He had to go 
out again, for he was invited to dine at Lawyer 
Cockermuth's, so he saw no more of the young lady 



THE EBONY BOX. 283 

that day ; but she kept dancing about in his memory. 
And somehow she so fixed herself in it, and as the 
time went on so grew in it, and at last so filled it, that 
Sam may well hold that day as a marked day — the 
one that introduced him to Maria Parslet. But that 
is anticipating. 

On the Monday morning all his ears and eyes were 
alert, listening and looking for Maria. He did not see 
her; he did not hear a sound of her. By degrees 
he got to learn that the young lady was resident 
teacher in a lady's school hard by ; and that she was 
often allowed to spend the whole day at home on 
Sundays. One Sunday evening he ingeniously got 
himself invited to take tea in Mrs. Parslet's parlour, 
and thus became acquainted with Maria; but his 
opportunities for meeting her were rare. 

There's not much to tell of the first twelvemonth. 
.It passed in due course. Sam Dene was fairly 
steady. He made a few debts, as some young men, 
left to themselves, can't help making — at least, 
they'd tell you they can't. Sundry friends of Sam's 
in Worcester knew of this, and somehow it reached 
Mr. Cockermuth's ears, who gave Sam a word of advice 
privately. 

This was just as the first year expired. According 
to agreement, Sam had another year to stay. He 
entered upon it with inward gloom. On adding up 
his scores, which he deemed it as well to do after his 
master's lecture, he again found that they amounted 
to far more than he had thought for, and how he 
should contrive to pay them out of his own resources 
he knew no more than the man in the moon. In 
short, he could not do it ; he was in a fix ; and lived 



284 JOHNNY LUDLOW 

in perpetual dread of its coming to the ears of Km 
uncle Jacobson. 

The spring assize, taking place early in March, was 
just over ; the judges had left the town for Stafford, 
and Worcester was settling down again to quietness. 
Miss Cockermuth gave herself and her two hand- 
maidens a week's rest — assize time being always a 
busy and bustling period at the lawyer's, no end of 
chance company looking in — and then the house began 
its spring cleaning, a grand institution with our good 
grandmothers, often lasting a couple of weeks. This 
time, at the lawyer's house, it was to be a double 
bustle ; for visitors were being prepared for. 

It had pleased Captain Cockermuth to write Avord 
that he should be at home for Easter; upon which, 
the lawyer and his sister decided to invite Philip's 
widow and her children also to spend it with them ; 
they knew Charles would be pleased. Easter-Day 
was very early indeed that year, falling at the end of 
March. 

To make clearer what's coming, the house had better 
have a word or two of description. You entered from 
the street into a wide passage ; no steps. On the left 
was the parlour and general sitting-room, in which all 
meals were usually taken. It was a long, low room, 
its two rather narrow windows looking upon the street, 
the back of the room being a little dark. Opposite 
the door was the fireplace. On the other side the 
passage, facing the parlour-door, was the door that 
opened to the two rooms (one front, one back) used as 
the lawyer's ofiices. The kitchens and staircase were 
at the back of the passage, a garden lying beyond; 



THE EBONY BOX. 285 

and there was a handsome drawiKg-room on the first 
floor, not much used. 

The house, I say, was in a commotion with the 
spring cleaning, and the other preparations. To 
accommodate so many visitors required contrivance : 
a bedroom for the captain, a bedroom for his daughter- 
in-law, two bedrooms for the children. Mistress and 
maids held momentous consultations together. 

'' We have decided to put the three little girls in 
Philip's old room, John," said Miss Betty to her 
brother, as they sat in the parlour after dinner on the 
Monday evening of the week preceding Passion Week ; 
"and little Philip can have the small room off mine. 
We shall have to get in a child's bed, though ; I can't 
put the three little girls in one bed ; they might get 
fighting. John, I do wish you'd sell that old bureau 
for what it will fetch." 

" Sell the old bureau ! " exclaimed Mr. Cockermuth. 

" I'm sure I should. What good does it do ? Unless 
that bureau goes out of the room, we can't put the 
extra bed in. I've been in there half the day with 
Susan and Ann, planning and contriving, and we find 
it can't be done any way. Do let Ward take it away, 
John; there's no place for it in the other chambers. 
He'd give you a fair price for it, I dare say." 

Miss Betty had never cared for this piece of 
furniture, thinking it more awkward than useful : she 
looked eagerly at her brother, awaiting his decision. 
She was the elder of the two ; tall, like him ; but 
whilst he maintained his thin, wiry form, just the 
shape of an upright gas-post with arms, she had 
grown stout with no shape at all. Miss Betty had 
dark^ thick eyebrows and an amiable red face. She 



286 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

wore a '^ front " of brown curls with a high and dressy 
cap perched above it. This evening her gown was 
of soft twilled shot-green silk, a white net kerchief 
was crossed under its body, and she had on a white 
muslin apron. 

''I don't mind," assented the lawyer, as easy in 
disposition as Miss Betty was ; '' it's of no use keeping 
it that I know of Send for Ward and ask him, if 
you like, Betty." 

Ward, a carpenter and cabinet-maker, who had a 
shop in the town and sometimes bought second-hand 
things, was sent for by Miss Betty on the following 
morning ; and he agreed, after some chaffering, to buy 
the old bureau. It was the bureau from which Philip's 
box of gold had disappeared — but I dare say you have 
understood that. In the midst of all this stir and 
clatter, just as Ward betook himself away after con- 
cluding the negotiation, and the maids were hard at 
work above stairs with mops and pails and scrubbing- 
brushes, the first advance-guard of the visitors un- 
expectedly walked in : Captain Cockermuth. 

Miss Betty sat down in an access of consternation. 
She could do nothing but stare. He had not been 
expected for a week yet; there was nothing ready 
and nowhere to put him. 

'' I wish you'd take to behaving like a rational being, 
Charles ! " she exclaimed. " We are all in a mess ; 
the rooms upside down, and the bedside carpets hang- 
ing out at the windows." 

Captain Cockermuth said he did not care for bedside 
carpets, he could sleep anywhere — on the brewhouse- 
bench, if she liked. He quite approved of selling the 
old bureau, when told it was going to be done. 



THE EBONY BOX. 287 

Ward had appointed five o'clock that evening to 
fetch it away. They were about to sit down to dinner 
when he came^ five o'clock being the hour for late 
dinners then in ordinary life. Ward had brought a 
man with him and they went upstairs. 

Miss Betty, as carver, sat at the top of the dining- 
table, her back to the windows, the lawyer in his place 
at the foot, Charles between them, facing the fire. 
Miss Betty was cutting ofi" the first joint of a loin of 
veal when the bureau was heard coming down the 
staircase, with much bumping and noise. 

Mr. Cockermuth stepped out of the dining-room to 
look on. The captain followed : being a sociable man 
with his fellow-townspeople, he went to ask Ward 
how he did. 

The bureau came down safely, and was lodged at 
the foot of the stairs ; the man wiped his hot face, 
while Ward spoke with Captain Cockermuth. It 
seemed quite a commotion in the usual quiet dwelling. 
Susan, a jug of ale in her hand, which she had been 
to the cellar to draw, stood looking on from the 
passage ; Mr. Dene and a younger clerk, coming out 
of the office just then to leave for the evening, turned 
to look on also. 

'' I suppose there's nothing in here, sir ? " cried Ward, 
returning to business and the bureau. 

" Nothing, I believe," replied Mr. Cockermuth. 

" Nothing at all,'" called out Miss Betty through the 
open parlour-door. ''I emptied the drawers this 
morning." 

Ward, a cautious man and honest, drew back the 
lid and put his hand in succession into the pigeon- 
holes; which had not been used since Philip's time. 



2§8 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

There were twelve of them ; three above, and three 
below on each side, and a little drawer that locked in 
the middle. '' Halloa ! '' cried Ward, when his hand 
was in the depth of one of them : " here's something." 

And he drew forth the lost box. The little ebony 
box with all the gold in it. 

Well now, that was a strange thing. Worcester 
thinks so, those people who are still living to remember 
it, to this day. How it was that the box had appeared 
to be lost and was searched for in vain over and over 
again, by poor Philip and others ; and how it was that 
it was now recovered in this easy and natural manner, 
was never explained or accounted for. Ward's opinion 
was that the, box must have been put in, side upwards, 
that it had in some way stuck to the back of the deep, 
narrow pigeon-hole, which just about held the box in 
width, that those who had searched took the box for 
the back of the hole when their fingers touched it, and 
that the bumping of the bureau now in coming down- 
stairs had dislodged the box and brought it forward. 
As a maker of bureaus. Ward's opinion was listened to 
with deference. Any way, it was a sort of theory, 
serving passably well in the absence of any other. But 
Avho knew ? All that was certain about it was the 
fact ; the loss and the recovery after many years. It 
happened just as here described, as I have already 
said. 

Sam Dene had never heard of the loss. Captain 
Cockermuth, perfectly beside himself with glee, ex- 
plained it to him. Sam laughed as he touched with 
his forefinger the closely packed golden guineas, lying 
there so snug and safe, offered his congratulations, and 
walked home to tea. 



THE EBONY BOX. 28D 

It chanced that on that especial Tuesday evening, 
matters were at sixes and sevens in the Parslets' house. 
Sally had misbehaved herself and was discharged in 
consequence ; and the servant engaged in her place, 
who was to have entered that afternoon, had not made 
her appearance. When Sam entered, Maria came out 
of the parlour, a pretty blush upon her face. And to 
Sam the unexpected sight of her, it was not often he 
got a chance of it, and the blush and the sweet eyes 
came like a gleam of Eden, for he had grown to love 
her dearly. Not that he had owned it to himself yet. 
' Maria explained. Her school had broken up for 
the Easter holidays earlier than it ought, one of the 
girls showing symptoms of measles; and her mother 
had gone out to see what had become of the new 
servant, leaving a request that Mr. Dene would take 
his tea with them in the parlour that evening, as there 
was no one to wait on him. 

^ Nothing loth, you may be sure, Mr. Dene accepted 
the invitation, running up to wash his hands, and give 
a look at his hair, and running down in a trice. The 
tea-tray stood in readiness on the parlour- table, Maria 
sitting behind it. Perhaps she had given a look at 
her hair, for it was quite more lovely, Sam thought, 
more soft and silken than any hair he had ever seen. 
The little copper kettle sang away on the hob by the 
fire. 

" Will papa be long, do you know ? '' began Maria 
demurely, feeling shy and conscious at being thus 
thrown alone into Sam's company. " I had better not 
make the tea until he comes in." 

" I don't know at all," answered Sam. " He went 
out on some business for Mr. Cockermuth at half-past 

Jubnny T.udlow.— V. 19 « 



290 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

four, and was not back when I left. Such a curious 
thing has just happened up there, Miss Parslet ! '' 

^andeed! What is it?" 

Sam entered on the narrative. Maria, who knew 
all about the strange loss of the box, grew quite excited 
as she listened. ''Found!" she exclaimed. ''Found 
in the same bureau ! And all the golden guineas 
in it ! " 

"Every one," said Sam : "as I take it. They were 
packed right up to the top ! " 

" Oh, what a happy thing ! " repeated Maria, in a 
fervent tone that rather struck Sam, and she clasped 
her fingers into one another, as one sometimes does in 
pleasure or in pain. 

" Why do you say that, Miss Parslet ? " 

*' Because papa — but I do not think I ought to tell 
you," added Maria, breaking off abruptly. 

" Oh yes, you may. I am quite safe, even if it's a 
secret. Please do." 

'^ Well," cried the easily persuaded girl, "papa has 
always had an uncomfortable feeling upon him ever 
since the loss. He feared that some people, knowing 
he was not well off, might think perhaps it was he 
who had stolen upstairs and taken it." 

Sam laughed at that. 

" He has never said so, but somehow we have seen 
it, my mother and I. It was altogether so mysterious 
a loss, you see, affording no clue as to luhen it occurred, 
that people were ready to suspect anything, however 
improbable. Oh, I am thankful it is found ! " 

The kettle went on singing, the minutes went on 
flitting, and still nobody came. Six o'clock struck out 
from the cathedral as Mr. Parslet entered. Had the 



THE EBONY BOX. 291 

two been asked the time, they might have said it was 
about a quarter-past five. Golden hours fly quickly ; 
fly on angels' wings. 

Now it chanced that Avhilst they were at tea, a 
creditor of Sam's came to the door, one Jonas Badger. 
Sam went to him : and the colloquy that ensued might 
be heard in the parlour. Mr. Badger said (in quite a 
fatherly way) that he really could not be put off any 
longer with promises ; if his money was not repaid to 
him before Easter he should be obliged to take steps 
about it, should write to Mr. Jacobson, of Elm Farm, 
to begin with. Sam returned to the tea-table w^ith a 
wry face. 

Soon after that, Mrs. Parslet came in, the delinquent 
servant in her rear. Next, a friend of Sam's called, 
Austin Chance, whose father was a solicitor in good 
practice in the town. The two young men, who were 
very intimate and often together, went up to Sam's 
room above. 

" I say, my good young friend," began Chance, in 
a tone that might be taken for jest or earnest, 
" don't you go and get into any entanglement in that 
quarter." 

" What d'you mean now ? " demanded Sam, turning 
the colour of the rising sun. 

''I mean Maria Parslet," said Austin Chance, laughing. 
'' She's a deuced nice girl ; I know that ; just the one 
a fellow might fall in love with unawares. But it 
wouldn't do. Dene." 

"Why wouldn't it do?" 

'' Oh, come now, Sam, you know it wouldn't. Parslet 
is only a working clerk at Cockermuth's." 

" I should like to know what has put the thought in 



292 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

your head ? " contended Sam. '' You had better put it 
out again. I've never told you I was falling in love with 
her; or told herself, either. Mrs. Parslet would be 
about me, I expect, if I did. She looks after her as one 
looks after gold." 

" Well, I found you in their room, having tea with 
them, and " 

'' It was quite an accident ; an exceptional thing," 
interrupted Sam. 

"Well," repeated Austin, "you need not put your 
back up, old fellow ; a friendly warning does no harm. 
Talking of gold, Dene, I've done my best to get up 
the twenty pounds you wanted to borrow of me, and 
I can't do it. I'd let you have it with all my heart if 
I could ; but I find I am harder up than I thought 
for." 

Which was all true. Chance was as good-natured 
a young man as ever lived, but at this early stage of 
his life he made more debts than he could pay. 

" Badger has just been here, whining and covertly 
threatening," said Sam. " I am to pay up in a week, 
or he'll make me pay — and tell my uncle, he says, to 
begin with." 

"Hypocritical old skinflint!" ejaculated Chance, 
himself sometimes in the hands of Mr. Badger — a 
worthy gentleman who did a little benevolent usury in 
a small and quiet way, and took his delight in accom- 
modating safe young men. A story was whispered 
that young M., desperately hard-up, borrowed two 
pounds from him one Saturday night, undertaking to 
repay it, with two pounds added on for interest, that 
day month ; and when the day came and M. had not 
got the money, or was at all likely to get it, he carried 



THE EBONY BOX, 293 

off a lot of his mother's plate under his coat to the 
pawnbroker's. 

" And there's more besides Badger's that is pressing," 
went on Dene. " I must get money from somewhere, 
or it will play the very deuce with me. I wonder 
whether Charley Hill could lend me any ? " 

" Don't much think so. You might ask him. Money 
seems scarce with Hill always. Has a good many 
ways for it, I fancy." 

''Talking of money, Chance, a lot has been found at 
Cockermuth's to-daj^ A boxful of guineas that has 
been lost for years." 

Austin Chance stared. '' You don't mean that box 
of guineas that mysteriously disappeared in Philip's 
time ? " 

'' Well, they say so. It is a small, round box of 
carved ebony, and it is stuffed to the brim wdth old 
guineas. Sixty of them, I hear." 

^' I can't believe it's true ; that that's found." 

" Not believe it's true, Chance ! Why, I saw it. 
Saw the box found, and touched the guineas with my 
fingers. It has been hidden in an old bureau all the 
time," added Sam, and he related the particulars of the 
discover}^ 

" What an extraordinary thing ! " exclaimed young 
Chance : '' the queerest start I ever heard of" And 
he fell to musing. 

But the " queer start," as Mr. Austin Chance was 
pleased to designate the resuscitation of the box, did 
not prove to be a lucky one. 



294 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 



II 



The sun shone brightly on Foregate Street, but did 
not yet touch the front-windows on Lawyer Cocker- 
muth's side of it. Miss Betty Cockermuth sat near 
one of them in the parlour, spectacles on nose, and 
hard at work unpicking the braid off some very old 
woollen curtains, green once, but now faded to a sort 
of dingy brown. It was Wednesday morning, the day 
following the wonderful event of finding the box, lost 
so long, full of its golden guineas. In truth nobodj^ 
thought of it as anything less than marvellous. 

The house-cleaning, in preparation for Easter and 
Easter's visitors, was in full flow to-day, and would 
be for more than a week to come; the two maids 
were hard at it above. Ward, who did not disdain to 
labour with his own hands, was at the house, busy at 
some mysterious business in the brewhouse, coat off, 
shirt-sleeves stripped up to elbow, plunging at that 
moment something or other into the boiling water of 
the furnace. 

'' How I could have let them remain up so long in 
this state, I can t think," said Miss Betty to herself, 
arresting her employment, scissors in hand, to regard 
the dreary curtains. She had drawn the table towards 
her from the middle of the room, and the heavy work 
was upon it. Susan came in to impart some domestic 
news. 

" Ward says there's a rare talk in the town about 
the finding of that box, missis," cried she, when she 
had concluded it. '' My ! how bad them curtains look, 
now they're down ! " 



THE EBONY BOX, 295 

Servants were on more familiar terms with their 
mistresses in those days without meaning, or showing, 
any disrespect; identifying themselves, as it were, 
with the family and its interests. Susan, a plump, 
red-cheeked young woma.n. turned thirty, had been 
housemaid in her present place for seven years. She 
had promised a baker's head man to marry him, but 
never could be got to fix the day. In winter she'd 
say to him, '' Wait till summer ; " and when summer 
came, she'd say, " Wait till winter." Miss Betty com- 
mended her prudence. 

" Yes," said she now, in answer to the girl, " I've 
been wondering how we could have kept them up so 
long ; they are not fit for much, I'm afraid, save the rag- 
bag. Chintz will make the room look much nicer." 

As Susan left the parlour, Captain Cockermuth 
entered it, a farmer with him who had come in from 
Hallow to the Wednesday's market. The captain's 
delighted excitement at the finding of the box had not 
at all subsided ; he had dreamt of it, he talked of it, 
he pinned every acquaintance he could pick up this 
morning and brought him in to see the box of gold. 
Independently of its being a very great satisfaction to 
have had the old mysterious loss cleared up, the sixty 
guineas would be a huge boon to the captain's pocket. 

" But how was it that none of you ever found it, if 
it remained all this while in the pigeon-hole ? " cried 
the wondering farmer, bending over the little round 
box of guineas, which the captain placed upon the 
table open, the lid by its side. 

" Well, we didn't find it, that's all I know ; or poor 
Philip, either," said Captain Cockermuth. 

The farmer took his departure. As the captain was 



29C) JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

showing him to the front-door, another gentleman 
came bustling in. It was Thomas Chance the lawyer, 
father of the young man who had been the previous 
night with Samson Dene. He and Lawyer Cocker- 
muth were engaged together just then in some com- 
plicated, private, and very disagreeable business, each 
acting for a separate client, who were the defendants 
against a great wrong — or what they thought was one. 
i '' Come in, Chance, and take a look at my box of 
guineas, resuscitated from the grave," cried the captain, 
joyously. '' You can go into the office to John after- 
wards/' 

" Well, I've hardly time this morning," answered 
Mr. Chance, turning, though, into the parlour and 
shaking hands with Miss Betty. '' Austin told me it 
was found." 

' Now it happened that Lawyer Cockermuth came 
then into the parlour himself, to get something from 
his private desk-table which stood there. When the 
box had been discussed, Mr. Chance took a letter 
from his pocket and placed it in his brother prac- 
titioner's hands. 

'' What do you think of that ? " he asked. '' I got it 
by post this morning." 

'' Think ! why, that it is of vital importance," said 
Mr. Cockermuth when he had Tead it. 

" Yes ; no doubt of that. But what is to be our 
next move in answer to it ? " asked the other. 

Seeing they were plunging into business, the captain 
strolled away to the front-door, which stood open all 
day, for the convenience of those coming to the office, 
and remained there whistling, his hands in his pockets, 
on the look out for somebody else, to bring in. He 



THE EBONY BOX, 297 

had put the lid on the box of guineas, and left the box 
on the table. 

" I should like to take a copy of this letter," said 
Mr. Cockermuth to the other lawyer. 

'' Well, you can take it," answered Chance. " Mind 
who does it, though — Parslet, or somebody else that's 
confidential. Don't let it go into the office." 

"You are wanted, sir," said Mr, Dene, from the 
door. 

" Who is it ? " asked his master. 

" Mr. Chamberlain. He says he is in a hurry." 

" I'm coming. Here, Dene ! " he called out as the 
latter was turning away : and young Dene came back 
again. 

" Sit down here, now, and take a copy of this letter," 
cried the lawyer, rapidly drawing out and opening the 
little writing-desk table that stood against the wall at 
the back of the room. '' Here's pen, ink and paper, 
all ready : the letter is confidential, you perceive." 

He went out of the room as he spoke, Mr. Chance 
with him ; and Sam Dene sat down to commence his 
task, after exchanging a few words with Miss Betty, 
with whom he was on good terms. 

" Charles makes as much fuss over this little box as 
if it were filled with diamonds from Golconda, instead 
of guineas," remarked she, pointing with her scissors 
to the box, which stood near her on the table, to direct 
the young man's attention to it. " I don't know how 
many folks he has not brought in already to have a 
look at it." 

'' Well, it was a capital find, Miss Betty ; one to be 
proud of," answered Sam, settling to his work. 

For some little time iiothino^ was heard but the 



298 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

scratching of Mr. Dene's pen and the clicking of Miss 
Betty's scissors. Her task was nearing completion. 
A few minutes more, and the last click was given, the 
last bit of the braid was off. " And I'm glad of it," 
cried she aloud, flinging the end of the curtain on the 
top of the rest. 

'' This braid will do again for something or other/' 
considered Miss Betty, as she began to wind it upon 
an old book. " It was put on fresh only three or four 
years ago. Well brushed, it will look almost like 
new." 

Again Susan opened the door. " Miss Betty, here's 
the man come with the chintz : five or six rolls of it 
for you to choose from," cried she. " Shall he come in 
here ? ^' 

Miss Betty was about to say Yes, but stopped and 
said No, instead. The commotion of holding up the 
chintzes to the light, to judge of their different merits, 
might disturb Mr. Dene ; and she knew better than to 
interrupt business. 

" Let him take them to the room where they are to 
hang, Susan ; we can judge best there." 

Tossing the braid to • Susan, who stood waiting at 
the door. Miss Betty hastily took up her curtains, and 
Susan held the door open for her mistress to pass 
through. 

Choosing chintz for window-curtains takes some 
time ; as everybody knows whose fancy is erratic. 
And how long Miss Betty and Susan and the young 
man from the chintz-mart had been doubting and 
deciding and doubting again, did not quite appear, 
when Captain Cockermuth's voice was heard ascending 
from below. 



THE EBONY BOX. 299 

" Betty ! Are you upstairs, Betty ? " 

"Yes, I'm here," she called back, crossing to the 
door to speak. " Do you want me, Charles ? " 

" Where have you put the box ? " 

"What box?" 

" The box of guineas." 

" It is on the table." 

" It is not on the table. I can t see it anywhere." 

"It was on the table when I left the parlour. I 
did not touch it. Ask Mr. Dene where it is : I left 
him there." 

" Mr. Dene's not here. I wish you'd come down." 

''Very well; 111 come in a minute or two," con- 
cluded Miss Betty, going back to the chintzes. 

" Why, I saw that box on the table as I shut the 
door after you had come out, ma'am," observed Susan, 
who had listened to the colloquy. 

" So did I," said Miss Betty ; " it was the very last 
thing my eyes fell on. If young Mr. Dene finished 
what he was about and left the parlour, I dare say he 
put the box up somewhere for safety. I think, Susan, 
we must fix upon this light pea-green with the rose- 
buds running up it. It matches the paper : and the 
light coming through it takes quite a nice shade." 

A little more indecision yet ; and yet a little more, 
as to whether the curtains should be lined, or not, and 
then Miss Cockermuth went downstairs. The captain 
was pacing the passage to and fro impatiently. 

" Now then, Betty, where's my box ? " 

" But how am I to know where the box is, Charles, 
if it's not on the table ? " she remonstrated, turning 
into the parlour, where two friends of the captain's 
waited to be regaled with the sight of the recovered 



300 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

treasure. '' I had to go upstairs with the young man 
who brought the chintzes ; and I left the box here " — 
indicating the exact spot on the table. "It was 
where you left it yourself. I did not touch it at all." 

She shook hands with the visitors. Captain 
Cockermuth looked gloomy— as if he were at sea and 
had lost his reckoning. 

'' If you had to leave the room, why didn't you put 
the box up ? " asked he. '' A boxful of guineas 
shouldn't be left alone in an empty room." 

" But Mr. Dene was in the room ; he sat at the 
desk there, copying a letter for John. As to why 
didn't I put the box up, it was not my place to do so 
that I know of. You were about yourself, Charles — 
only at the front-door, I suppose." 

Captain Cockermuth was aware that he had not 
been entirely at the front-door. Two or three times 
he had crossed over to hold a chat with acquaintances 
on the other side the way ; had strolled with one of 
them nearly up to Salt Lane and back. Upon catch- 
ing hold of these two gentlemen, now brought in, he 
had found the parlour empty of occupants and the 
box not to be seen. 

'' Well, this is a nice thing — that a man can't put 
his hand upon his own property when he wants to, or 
liear where it is ! " grumbled he. " And what business 
on earth had Dene to meddle with the box ? " 

'' To put it in safety — if he did meddle with it, and 
a sensible thing to do," retorted Miss Betty, who did 
not like to be scolded unjustly. "Just like you, 
Charles, making a fuss over nothing ! Why don't 
you go and ask young Dene where it is ? " 

" Young- Dene is not in. And John's not in, 



THE EBONY BOX. 301 

Nobody is in but Parslet ; and he does not know 
anything about it. I must say, Betty, you manage 
the house nicely ! " concluded the captain ironically, 
giving way to his temper. 

This was, perhaps the reader may think, commotion 
enough " over nothing," as Miss Betty put it. But it 
was not much as compared with the commotion which 
set in later. When Mr. Cockermuth came in, he 
denied all knowledge of it, and Sam Dene was im- 
patiently waited for. 

It was past two o'clock when he returned, for he 
had been home to dinner. The good-looking young- 
fellow turned in at the front-door with a fleet step, 
and encountered Captain Cockermuth, who attacked 
him hotly, demanding what he had done with the 
box. 

" Ah,'' said Sam, lightly and coolly, '' Parslet said 
j^ou were looking for it." Mr. Parslet had in fact 
mentioned it at home over his dinner. 

*' Well, where is it ? " said the captain. '' Where 
did you put it ? '' 

'' I ? " cried young Dene. " Not anywhere. Should 
I be likely to touch the box, sir ? I saw the box on 
that table while I was copying a letter for Mr. Cocker- 
muth ; that's all I know of it." 

The captain turned red, and pale, and red again. 
" Do you mean to tell me to my face, Mr. Dene, that 
the box is gone ? " 

"I'm sure I don't know," said Sam in the easiest 
of all easy tones. '' It seems to be gone." 

The box was gone. Gone once more with all its 
golden guineas. It could not be found anywhere ; in 
the house or out of the house, upstairs or down. The 



302 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

captain searched frantically, the others helped him, 
but no trace of it could be found. 

At first it was impossible to believe it. That this 
self-same box should mysteriously have vanished a 
second time, seemed to be too marvellous for fact. 
But it was true. 

Nobody would admit a share in the responsibility. 
The captain left the box safe amidst (as he put it) a 
roomful of people : Miss Betty considered that she 
left it equally safe, with Mr. Dene seated at the 
writing-table, and the captain dodging (as she put it) 
in and out. Mr. Cockermuth had not entered the 
parlour since he left it, when called to Mr. Chamber- 
lain, with whom he had gone out. Sam Dene 
reiterated that he had not meddled with the box ; no, 
nor thought about it. 

Sam's account, briefl}^ given, was this. After finish- 
ing copying the letter, he closed the little table-desk 
and pushed it back to its place against the wall, and 
had carried the letter and the copy into the office. 
Finding Mr. Cockermuth was not there, he locked 
them up in his own desk, having to go to the 
Guildhall upon some business. The business there 
took up some time, in fact until past one o'clock, and 
he then went home to dinner. 

" And did you consider it right, Sam Dene, to leave 
a valuable box like that on the table, unguarded ? " 
demanded Captain Cockermuth, as they all stood 
together in the parlour, after questioning Sam; and 
the captain had been looking so fierce and speaking 
so sharply that it might be thought he was taking 
Sam for the thief, off'-hand. 

'' To tell the truth, captain, I never thought of the 



THE EBONY BOX. 303 

box," answered Sam. '' I might not have noticed that 
the box was in the room at all but for Miss Betty's 
drawing my attention to it. After that, I grew so 
much interested in the letter I was copying (for I 
know all about the cause, as Mr. Cockermuth is aware, 
and it was curious news) that I forgot everything 
else." 

Lawyer Cockermuth nodded to confirm this. The 
captain went on. 

'' Betty drew your attention to it, did she ? Why 
did she draw it ? In what way ? " 

" Well, she remarked that you made as much fuss 
over that box as if it were filled with diamonds," 
replied the young man, glad to pay out the captain 
for his angry and dictatorial tone. But the captain 
was in truth beginning to entertain a very ominous 
suspicion. 

" Do you wish to deny, Samson Dene, that my sister 
Betty left that box on the table when she quitted the 
room ? " 

" Why, who does ? " cried Sam. " When Miss Betty 
says she left the box on the table, of course she did 
leave it. She must know. Susan, it seems, also saw 
that it was left there." 

"And you could see that box of guineas standing 
stark staring on the table, and come out of the room 
and leave it to its fate ! " foamed the captain. " Instead 
of giving me a call to say nobody was on guard 
here!" 

" I didn't see it," returned Sam. " There's no doubt 
it was there, but I did not see it. I never looked 
towards the table as I came out, that I know of. The 
table, as I dare say you remember, was not in its 



304 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

usual place; it was up there by the window. The 
box had gone clean out of my thoughts.'' 

" Well, Mr. Dene, my impression is that you have got 
the box,'' cried the angry captain. 

" Oh, is it ! " returned Sam, with supreme good 
humour, and just the least suspicion of a laugh. "A 
box like that would be uncommonly useful to me." 

" I expect, young man, the guineas would ! " 

" Right you are, captain." 

But Captain Cockermuth regarded this mocking 
pleasantry as particularly ill-timed. He believed the 
young man ivas putting it onto divert suspicion from 
himself, 

'' Who did take the box ? " questioned he. '' Tell 
me that." 

" I wish I could, sir." 

" How could the box vanish off the table unless it 
was taken, I ask you ? " 

'' That's a puzzling question," coolly rejoined Sam. 
^' It was too heavy for the rats, I expect." 

'^ Oh dear, but we have no rats in the house," cried 
Miss Betty. "I Avish we had, I'm sure — and could 
find the box in their holes." She was feeling tolerably 
uncomfortable. Placid and easy in a general way, 
serious worry always upset her considerably. 

Captain Cockermuth's suspicions were becoming 
certainties. The previous night, when his brother had 
been telling him various items of news of the old 
town, as they sat confidentially over the fire after 
Miss Betty had gone up to bed, Mr. Cockermuth 
chanced to mention the fact that young Dene had been 
making a few debts. Not speaking in any ill-natured 
spirit, quite the contrary, for he liked the young man 



THE EBONY BOX. 305 

amazingly. Only a few, he continued; thoughtless 
young men would do so; and he had given him a 
lecture. And then he laughingly added the informa- 
tion that Mr. Jacobson had imparted to him twelve 
months ago, in their mutual friendship — of the debts 
Sam had made in London. 

No sensible person can be surprised that Charles 
Cockermuth recalled this now. It rankled in his 
mind. Had Sam Dene taken the box of guineas to 
satisfy these debts contracted during the past year at 
Worcester? It looked like it. And the longer the 
captain dv/elb on it, the more and more likely it grew 
to look. 

All the afternoon the search was kept up by the 
captain. Not an individual article in the parlour but 
was turned inside out ; he wanted to have the carpet 
up. His brother and Sam Dene had returned to their 
work in the office as usual. The captain was getting 
to feel like a raging bear ; three times Miss Betty had 
to stop him in a dreadful fit of swearing ; and when 
dinner-time came he could not eat. It was a beautiful 
slice of Severn salmon, which had its price, I can tell 
you, in Worcester then, and minced veal, and a jam 
tart, all of which dishes Charles Cockermuth especially 
favoured. But the loss of the sixty guineas did away 
with his appetite. Mr. Cockermuth, who took the 
loss very coolly, laughed at him. 

The laughing did not mend the captain's temper : 
neither did the hearing that Sam Dene had departed 
for home as usual at five o'clock. Had Sam been 
innocent, he would at least have come to the parlour 
and inquired whether the box was found, instead of 
sneaking off home to tea 

Johnny Ludlow.— V. 20 



306 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

' Fretting and fuming, raging and stamping, disturb- 
ing the parlour's peace and his own, strode Charles 
Cockermuth. His good-humoured brother John bore 
it for an hour or two, and then told him he might as 
well go outside and stamp on the pavement for a 
bit. 

'' I will,'' said Charles. Catching up his hat, saying 
nothing to anybody, he strode off to see the sergeant 
of police — Dutton — and laid the case concisely before 
him : The box of guineas was on the table where his 
sister sat at work ; her work being at one end, the box 
at the other. Sam Dene was also in the room, copying 
a letter at the writing-table. Miss Betty was called 
upstairs ; she went, leaving the box on the table. It 
was the last thing she saw as she left the room ; the 
servant, who had come to call her, also saw it standing 
there. Presently young Dene also left the room and 
the house ; and from that moment the box was never 
seen. 

'' What do you make of that, Mr. Dutton ? " summed 
up Captain Cockermuth. 

" Am I to understand that no other person entered 
the room after Mr. Dene quitted it ? " inquired the 
sergeant. 

" Not a soul. I can testify to that myself." 

" Then it looks as though Mr. Dene must have 
taken the box." 

" Just so," assented the complainant, triumphantly. 
'' And I shall give him into custody for stealing it." 

Mr. Dutton considered. His judgment was cool ; 
the captain's hot. He thought there might be ins and 
outs in this affair that had not yet come to the surface. 
Besides that, he knew young Dene, and did not much 



THE EBONY BOX. 307 

fancy him the sort of individual likely to do a thing 
of this kind. , 

'' Captain Cockermuth/' said he, " I think it might 
be best for me to come up to the house and see a bit 
into the matter personally, before proceeding to ex- 
treme measures. We experienced officers have a way 
of turning up scraps of evidence that other people 
would never look at. Perhaps, after all, the box is 
only mislaid." i 

'' But I tell you it's lost," said the captain. " Clean 
gone Can't be found high or low." 

'' Well, if that same black box is lost again, I can 
only say it is the oddest case I ever heard of. One 
would think the box had a demon inside it." 

" No, sergeant, you are wrong there. The demon's 
inside him that took it. Listen while I whisper some- 
thing in your ear — that young Dene is over head and 
ears in debt : he has debts here, debts there, debts 
everywhere. For some little time now, as I chance to 
know, he has been at his very wits' end to think 
where or how he could pick up some money to satisfy 
the most pressing ; fit to die of fear, lest they should 
travel to the knowledge of his uncle at Elm Farm." 

" Is it so ? " exclaimed Mr. Dutton, severely. And 
his face changed, and his opinion also. " Are you sure 
of this, sir?" i 

'' Well, my informant was my brother ; so you may 
judge whether it is likely to be correct or not," said 
the captain. **But, if you think it best to make 
some inquiries at the house, come with me now and 
do so." 

They walked to Foregate together. The sergeant 
looked a little at the features of the parlour, where 



308 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

the loss had taken place, and heard what Miss Betty- 
had to say, and questioned Susan. This did not help 
the suspicion thrown on Sam Dene, saving in one point 
— their joint testimony that he and the box were left 
alone in the room together. 

Mr. Cockermuth had gone out, so the sergeant did 
not see him : but, as he was not within doors when 
the loss occurred, he could not have aided the investi- 
gation in any way. 

''Well, Dutton, what do you think now?" asked 
Captain Cockermuth, strolling down the street with 
the sergeant when he departed. 

" I confess my visit has not helped me much," said 
Dutton, a slow-speaking man, given to be cautious. 
" If nobody entered the room between the time when 
Miss Cockermuth left it and you entered it, why then, 
sir, there's only young Dene to fall back upon." 

'' I tell you nobody did enter it," cried the choleric 
captain ; " or could, without my seeing them. I stood 
at the front-door. Ward was busy at the house that 
morning, dodging perpetually across the top of the 
passage, between the kitchen and brewhouse : he, too, 
is sure no stranger could have come in without being 
seen by him." 

" Did you see young Dene leave the room, sir ? " 

*' I did. Hearing somebody come out of the parlour, 
I looked round and saw it was joung Dene with some 
papers in his hand. He went into the office for a 
minute or two, and then passed me, remarking, with 
all the impudence in life, that he was going to the 
town hall. He must have had my box in his pocket 
then." 

''A pity but you had gone into the parlour at once, 



THE EBONY BOX. 309 

captain/' remarked the sergeant. '' If only to put the 
box in safety — provided it was there.'' 

" But I thought it was safe. I thought my sister 
was there. I did go in almost directly." 

'' And you never stirred from the door — from first 
to last ? " 

"I don't say that. When I first stood there I 
strolled about a little, talking with one person and 
another. But I did not stir from the door after I 
saw Sam Dene leave the parlour. And I do not think 
five minutes elapsed before I went in. Not more than 
five, I am quite certain. What are you thinking about, 
Dutton ?— you don't seem to take me." 

'' I take you well enough, sir, and all you say. But 
what is puzzling me in the matter is this ; strikes me 
as strange, in fact : that Mr. Dene should do the thing 
(allowing that he has done it) in so open and bare- 
faced a manner, laying himself open to immediate 
suspicion. Left alone in the room with the box by 
Miss Betty, he must know that if, when he left it, the 
box vanished with him, only one inference would be 
drawn. Most thieves exercise some caution." 

'' Not when they are as hard up as Dene is. Impu- 
dence with them is the order of the day, and often 
carries luck with it. Nothing risk, nothing win, they 
cry, and they do risk — and win. Dene has got my 
box, sergeant." 

" Well, sir, it looks dark against him ; almost too 
dark ; and if you decide to give him into custody, of 
course we have only to—— Good-evening, Badger ! " 

They had strolled as far as the Cross, and were 
standing on the wide pavement in front of St. Nicholas' 
Church, about to part, when that respectable gentle- 



310 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

man, Jonas Badger, passed by. A thought struck the 
captain. He knew the man was a money-lender in a 
private way. 

I *' Here, Badger, stop a minute," he hastily cried. " I 
want to ask you a question about young Dene — my 
brother s clerk, you know. Does he owe you money ? 
—Much ? " 

Mr. Badger, wary by nature and by habit, glanced 
first at the questioner and then at the police-sergeant, 
and did not answer. Whereupon Captain Cocker- 
muth, as an excuse for his curiosity, plunged into the 
history of what had occurred : the finding of the box 
of guineas yesterday and the losing it again to-day, 
and the doubt of Sam. 

! Mr. Badger listened with interest ; for the news of 
that marvellous find had not yet reached his ears. He 
had been shut up in his ofiice all the morning, very 
busy over his account-books ; and in the afternoon 
had walked over to Kempsey, where he had a client 
or two, getting back only in time for tea. 
^ "That long-lost box of guineas come to light at 
last ! "" he exclaimed. " What an extraordinary thing ! 

And Mr. Dene is suspected of Why, good 

gracious ! " he broke off* in fresh astonishment, " I have 
just seen him with a guinea in his pocket ! " 

'^ Seen a guinea in Sam Dene's pocket ! " cried 
Captain Cockermuth, turning yellow as the gas-flame 
under which they were standing. 

'' Why yes, I have. It was " 

But there Mr. Badger came to a full stop. It had 
suddenly struck him that he might be doing harm to 
Sam Dene; and the rule of his life was not to harm 
any one, or to make an enemy, if his own interest 
allowed him to avoid it. 



THE EBONY BOX. 311 

" I won't say any more, Captain Cockermuth. It is 
no business of mine/' 

But here Mr. Sergeant Button came to the fore. 
'' You must, Badger. You must say all you know 
that bears upon the affair; the law demands it of you. 
What about the guinea ? " 

" Well, if you force me to do so — putting it in that 
way/' returned the man, driven into a corner. 

Mr. Badger had just been down to Edgar Street to 
pay another visit to Sam. Not to torment him ; he 
did not do that more than he could help ; but simply 
to say he would accept smaller instalments for the 
liquidation of his debt — which of course meant giving 
to Sam a longer time to pay the whole in. This even- 
ing he was admitted to Sam's sitting-room. During 
their short conversation, Sam, searching impatiently 
for a pencil in his waistcoat-pocket, drew out with it 
a few coins in silver money, and one coin in gold. 
Mr. Badger's hungry eyes saw that it was an old 
guinea. These particulars he now imparted. 

" What did he say about the guinea ? " cried Captain 
Cockermuth, his own eyes glaring. 

''Not a word," said Badger; "neither did I. He 
slipped it back into his pocket." 

" I hope you think there's some proof to go upon 
now^' were Charles Cockermuth's last words to the 
police-officer as he wished him good-night. 

On the following morning, Sam Dene was appre- 
hended, and taken before the magistrates. Beyond 
being formally charged, very little was done; Miss 
Betty was in bed with a sick headache, brought on by 
the worry, and could not appear to give evidence ; so 
he was remanded on bail until Saturday. 



312 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 



III. 

I'm sure yon might have thought all his rick-yards 
were on fire by the way old Jocobson came bursting 
in. It was Saturday morning, and we were at break- 
fast at Dyke Manor. He had run every step of the 
way from Elm Farm, two miles nearly, not having 
patience to wait for his gig, and came in all excite- 
ment, the Worcester Herald in his hand. The Squire 
started from his chair ; Mrs. Todhetley, then in the act 
of pouring out a cup of coffee, let it flow over on to 
the tablecloth. 

" What on earth's amiss, Jacobson ? '' cried the 
Squire. 

'' Ay, what's amiss/' stuttered Jacobson in answer ; 
''this is amiss," holding out the newspaper. " I'll prose- 
cute the editor as sure as I'm a living man. It is a 
conspiracy got up to sell it ; a concocted lie. It can't 
be anything else, you know, Todhetley. And I want 
you to go off with me to Worcester. The gig's follow- 
ing me." 

When we had somewhat collected our senses, and 
could look at the newspaper, there was the account as 
large as life. Samson Reginald Dene had been had 
up before the magistrates on Thursday morning on 
a charge of stealing a small box of carved ebony, con- 
taining sixty guineas in gold, from the dwelling house 
of Lawyer Cockermuth ; and he was to be brought up 
again that day, Saturday, for examination, 

" A pretty thing this is to see, when a man opens 
his weekly newspaper at his breakfast-table ! " gasped 
Jacobson. flicking the report with his angry finger. 



THE EBONY BOX. SIS 

*' I'll have the law of' them — accusing my nephew 
of such a thing as that ! You'll go with me, 
Squire ! " 

'' Go ! of course I'll go ! " returned the Squire, in his 
hot partisanship. " We were going to Worcester, any- 
way ; I've things to do there. Poor Sam ! Hanging 
would be too good for the printers of that newspaper, 
Jacobson." 

Mr. Jacobson's gig was heard driving up to the 
gate at railroad speed ; and soon our own carriage was 
ready. Old Jacobson sat with the Squire, I behind 
with Giles ; the other groom, Blossom, drove Tod in 
the gig ; and away we went in the blustering March 
wind. Many people, farmers and others, were on the 
road, riding or driving to Worcester market. 

Well, we found it was true. And not the mistake 
of the newspapers : they had but reported what passed 
before the magistrates at the town hall. 

The first person we saw was Miss Cockermuth. 
She was in a fine way, not knowing what to think or 
believe, and sat in the parlour in that soft green gown 
of twilled silk (that might have been a relic of the 
silk made in the time of the Queen of Sheba), her 
cap and front all awry. Rumour said old Jacobson 
had been a sweetheart of hers in their young days ; 
but I'm sure I don't know. Any way they were very 
friendly with one another, and she sometimes called 
him " Frederick." He sat down by her on the horse- 
hair sofa, and we took chairs. 

She recounted the circumstances (ramblingly) from 
beginning to end. Not that the end had come yet by 
a long way. And — there it was, she wound up, when 
the narrative was over : the box had disappeared, just 



314 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

for all the world as mysteriously as it disappeared in 
the days gone by. 

Mr. Jacobson had listened patiently. He was a fine, 
upright man, with a healthy colour and bright dark 
eyes. He wore a blue frock-coat to-day with metal 
buttons, and top-boots. As j^et he did not see how 
they had got up grounds for accusing Sam, and he 
said so. 

" To be sure," cried the Squire. '' How's that, Miss 
Betty ? " 

''Why, it's this way," said Miss Betty— '' that 
nobody was here in the parlour but Sam when the 
box vanished. It is my brother Charles who has 
done it all ; he is so passionate, you know. John has 
properly quarrelled with him for it." 

" It is not possible, you know, Miss Betty, that Sam 
Dene could have done it," struck in Tod, who Avas 
boiling over with rage at the whole thing. "Some 
thief must have stolen in at the street-door when 
Sam had left the room." 

'' Well, no, that could hardly have been, seeing that 
Charles never left the street-door after that," returned 
Miss Betty, mildly. '•' It appears to be a certain fact 
that not a soul entered the room after the young man 
left it. And there lies the puzzle of it." 

Putting it to be as Miss Betty put it — and I may 
as well say here that nothing turned up, then or later, 
to change the opinion — it looked rather suspicious for 
Sam Dene. I think the Squire saw it. 

" I suppose you are sure the box was on the table 
when you left the room, Miss Betty ? " said he. 

'' Why, of course I am sure. Squire," she answered. 
" It was the last thing my eyes fell on ; for, as I went 



THE EBONY BOX.^ 315 

through the door, I glanced back to see that I had left 
the table tidy. Susan can bear witness to that. 
Dutton, the police-sergeant, thinks some demon of 
mischief must be in that box — meaning the deuce^ 
you know. Upon my word it looks like it." 

Susan came in with some glasses and ale as Miss 
Betty spoke, and confirmed the testimony — which did 
not need confirmation. As she closed the parlour-door, 
she said, after her mistress had passed out, she noticed 
the box standing on the table. 

" Is Sam here to-day — in the office ? " asked Mr. 
Jacobson. 

'' Oh, my goodness, no," cried Miss Betty in a fluster. 
"Why, Frederick, he has not been here since 
Thursday, when they had him up at the Guildhall. 
He couldn t well come while the charge is hanging 
over him." 

" Then I think we had better go out to find Sam, 
and hear what he has to say,'' observed Mr. Jacobson, 
drinking up his glass of ale. 

'' Yes, do," said Miss Betty. '' Tell poor Sam I'm as 
sorry as I can be — pestered almost out of my mind 
over it. And as to their having found one of the 
guineas in his pocket, please just mention to him that 
I say it might have slipped in accidentally." 

" One of the guineas found in Sam's pocket ! " ex- 
claimed Mr. Jacobson, taken aback. 

"Well, I hear so," responded Miss Betty. ^^The 
police searched him, you see." 

As the Squire and Mr. Jacobson went out, Mr. 
Cockermuth was coming in. They all turned into 
the office together, while we made a rush to Sam 
Dene's lodgings in Edgar Street : as much of a rush. 



31 G JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

at least, as the Saturday's streets would let us make. 
Sam was out, the young servant said when we got 
there, and while parleying with her Mrs. Parslet 
opened her sitting-room door. 

'' I do not suppose Mr. Dene will be long," she said. 
'^ He has to appear at the town hall this morning, and 
I think it likely he will come home first. Will j^ou 
Avalk in and wait ? " 

She handed us into her parlour^ where she had been 
busy, marking sheets and pillow-cases and towels 
with '' prepared " ink ; the table was covered with 
them. Tod began telling her that Mr. Jacobson 
was at Worcester, and went on to say what a 
shame it was that Sam Dene should be accused of 
this thing. 

*' We consider it so," said Mrs. Parslet ; who was a 
capable, pleasant-speaking woman, tall and slender. 
" My husband says it has upset Mr. Cockermuth more 
than anything that has occurred for years past. He 
tells his brother that he should have had it investigated 
privately, not have given Mr. Dene into custody." 

" Then why did he let him do it, Mrs. Parslet ? " 

She looked at Tod, as if surprised at the question. 
" Mr. Cockermuth knew nothing of it ; you may be 
sure of that. Captain Cockermuth had the young 
man at the Guildhall and was preferring the charge, 
before Mr. Cockermuth heard a word of what was 
agate. Certainly that is a most mysterious box ! It 
seems fated to give trouble." 

At this moment the door opened, and a young lady 
came into the parlour. It was Maria. What a nice 
face she had ! — what sweet thoughtful eyes ! — what 
gentle manners ! Sam's friends in the town were 



THE EBONY BOX. 317 

accusing him of being in love with her — and small 
blame to him. 

But Sam did not appear to be coming home, and 
time was getting on. Tod decided not to wait longer^ 
and said good-morning. 

Flying back along High Street, we caught sight of 
the tray of Dublin buns, just put fresh on the counter 
in Rousse's shop, and made as good a feast as time 
allowed. Some people called them Doubling buns 
(from their shape, I take it), and I don't know to this 
day which was right. 

Away with fleet foot again, past the bustle round 
the town hall, and market house, till we came to the 
next confectioner's and saw the apple-tarts. Perhaps 
somebody remembers yet how delicious those apple- 
tarts were. Bounding in, we began upon them. 

While the feast was in progress, Sam Dene went by, 
walking very fast. We dashed out to catch him. 
Good Mrs. Mountford chanced to be in the shop and 
knew us, or they might have thought we were 
decamping without payment. 

Sam Dene, in answer to Tod's hasty questions, went 
into a passion ; swearing at the world in general, and 
Captain Cockermuth in particular, as freely as though 
the justices, then taking their places in the Guildhall, 
were not as good as within earshot. 

" It is a fearful shame, Todhetley ! — to bring such 
a charge against me, and to lug me up to the criminal 
bar like a felon. Worse than all, to let it go forth to 
the town and county in to-day's glaring newspapers 
that I, Sam Dene, am a common thief ! 

" Of course it is a fearful shame, Sam — it's infamous, 
and all your friends know it is," cried Tod, v^^ith eager 



318 • JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

sympathy. ''My father wishes he could hang the 
printers. I say, what do you think has become of 
the box?" 

'^ Become of it ! — why, that blundering Charles 
Cockermuth has got it. He was off his head with 
excitement at its being found. He must have come 
into the room and put it somewhere and forgotten it : 
or else he put it into his pocket and got robbed of it 
in the street. That's what I think. Quite off his 
head, I give you my w^ord." 

"And what fable is it the wretches have got up 
about finding one of the guineas in your pocket, Sam ? " 

" Oh, bother that ! It was my own guinea. I swear 
it — there ! I can't stay now," went on Sam, striding 
off down High Street. '' I am due at the town hall 
this minute ; only out on bail. You'll come with me." 

"You go in and pay for the tarts, Johnny," called 
back Tod, as he put his arm within Sam Dene's. I 
looked in, pitched a shilling on the counter, said 
I didn't know how many we had eaten ; perhaps ten ; 
and that I couldn't wait for change. 

Crushing my way amidst the market Avomen and 
their baskets in the Guildhall yard, I came upon 
Austin Chance. His father held some post connected 
with the law, as administered there, and Austin said 
he would get me in. 

'^ Can it be true that the police found one of the 
guineas about him ? " I asked. 

Chance pulled a long face. "It's true they found 
one when they searched him " 

" What right had they to search him ? " 

" Well, I don't know," said Austin, laughing a little ; 
" they did it. To see perhaps whether all the guineas 



THE EBONY BOX. 319 

were about him. And I am afraid, Johnny Ludlow, 
that the finding of that guinea will make it rather 
hard for Sam. It is said that Maria Parslet can prove 
the guinea was Sam's own, and that my father has 
had a summons served on her to appear here to-day. 
He has taken Sam's case in hand ; but he is closer 
than wax, and tells me nothing." 

''You don't think he can have stolen the box, 
Chance ? " 

" I don't. I shouldn't think him capable of anything 
so mean ; let alone the danger of it. Not but that 
there are circumstances in the case that tell uncom- 
monly strong against him. And where the deuce the 
box can have got to, otherwise, is more than mortal 
man can guess at. Come along." 



IV. 

Not for a long while had Worcester been stirred as it 
was over this affair of Samson Dene's. What with 
the curious discovery of the box of guineas after its 
mysterious disappearance of years, and then its second 
no less mysterious loss, with the suspicion that Sam 
Dene stole it, the Faithful City was so excited as 
hardly to know whether it stood on its head or its 
heels. 

When the police searched the prisoner on Thursday 
morning, after taking him into custody, and found 
the guinea upon him (having been told that he 
had one about him), his guilt was thought to be as 
good as proved. Sam said the guinea was his own^ 



320 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

an heirloom, and stood to this so indignantly resolute 
that the police let him have it back. But now, what 
did Sam go and do ? When released upon bail by the 
magistrates — to come up again on the Saturday — he 
went straight off to a silversmith's, had a hole stamped 
in the guinea and hung it to his watch-chain across 
his waistcoat, that the public might feast their eyes 
upon it. It was in this spirit of defiance — or, as the 
town called it, bravado — that he met the charge. His 
lodgings had been searched for the rest of the guineas^ 
but they were not found. 

The hour for the Saturday's examination — twelve 
o'clock — was striking, as I struggled my way with 
Austin Chance through the crush round the Guildhall. 
But that Austin's father was a man of consequence 
with the door-keepers, we should not have got in 
at all. 

The accused, arraigned by his full name, Samson 
Reginald Dene, stood in the place allotted to prisoners, 
cold defiance on his handsome face. As near to him 
as might be permitted, stood Tod, just as defiant as he. 
Captain Charles Cockermuth, a third in defiance, stood 
opposite to prosecute ; while Lawyer Cockermuth, who 
came in with Sam's uncle, Mr. Jacobson, openly wished 
his brother at Hanover. Squire Todhetley, being a 
county magistrate, sat on the bench with the City 
magnates, but not to interfere. 

The proceedings began. Captain Cockermuth re- 
lated how the little box, his property, containing sixty 
golden guineas, was left on the table in a sitting-room 
in his brother's house, the accused being the only 
person in the room at the time, and that the box dis- 
appeared. He, himself (standing at the front-door), 



THE EBONY BOX. 321 

saw the accused quit the room ; he went into it almost 
immediately, but the box was gone. He swore that 
no person entered the room after the prisoner left it. 

Miss Betty Coekermuth, flustered and red, appeared 
next. She testified that she was in the room nearly 
all the morning, the little box being upon the table ; 
when she left the room, Mr. Dene remained in it alone, 
copying a letter for her brother ; the box was still on 
the table. Susan Edwards, housemaid at Lawyer 
Cockermuth's, spoke to the same fact. It was she who 
had fetched her mistress out, and she saw the box 
standing upon the table. 

The accused was asked by one of the magistrates 
what he had to say to this. He answered, speaking 
freely, that he had nothing to say in contradiction, 
except that he did not know what became of the box. 

" Did you see the box on the table ? " asked the 
lawyer on the opposite side, Mr. Standup. 

" I saw it there when I first went into the room. 
Miss Betty made a remark about the box, which drew 
my attention to it. I was sitting at the far end of the 
room, at Mr. Cockermuth's little desk- table. I did not 
notice the box afterwards." 

"Did you not see it there after Miss Cockermuth 
left the room ? " 

" No, I did not ; not that I remember," answered 
Sam. " Truth to say, I never thought about it. My 
attention was confined to the letter I was copying, to 
the exclusion of everything else." 

"Did any one come into the room after Miss 
Cockermuth left it?" 

" No one came into it. Somebody opened the door 
and looked in." 

Johnny Ludlow. —Y. 21 



322 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

This was fresh news. The town hall pricked up its 
ears. 

"I do not know who it was," added Sam. "My 
head was bent over my writing, when the door opened 
quickly, and as quickly shut again. I supposed some- 
body had looked in to see if Mr. or Miss Cockermuth 
was there, and had retreated on finding they were not." 

" Could that person, whomsoever it might be, have 
advanced to the table and taken the box ? " asked the 
chief of the magistrates. 

" No, sir. For certain, no ! "—and Sam's tone here, 
he best knew why, was aggravatingly defiant. " The 
person might have put his head in — and no doubt did 
— but he did not set a foot inside the room. 

Captain Cockermuth was asked about this : whether 
he observed any one go to the parlour and look in. 
He protested till he was nearly blue with rage (for 
he regarded it as Sam's invention), that such a thing 
never took place, that no one whatever went near the 
parlour-door. 

Next came up the question of the guinea, which 
was hanging from his watch-guard, shining and bold 
as if it had been brass. Sam had been questioned 
about this by the justices on Thursday, and his state- 
ment in answer to them was just as bold as the coin. 

The guinea had been given him by his late father s 
uncle, old Thomas Dene, who had jokingly enjoined 
him never to change it, always to keep it by him, and 
then he would never be without money. Sam had 
kept it ; kept it from that time to this. He kept it 
in the pocket of an old-fashioned leather case, which 
contained some letters from his father, and two or three 
other things he valued. No, he was not in the habit 



THE EBONY BOX. 323 

of getting the guinea out to look at, he had retorted 
to a little badgering ; had not looked at it (or at the 
case either, which lay in the bottom of his trunk) for 
months and months — yes, it might be years, for all 
he recollected. But on the Tuesday evening, when 
talking with Miss Parslet about guineas, he fetched it 
to shov;- to her ; and slipped it into his pocket after- 
wards, where the police found it on the Thursday. 
This was the substance of his first answer, and he 
repeated it now. 

" Do you know who is said to be the father of lies, 
young man ? '' asked Justice White wicker in a solemn 
tone, suspecting that the prisoner was telling an out- 
and-out fable. 

" I have heard," answered Sam. "Have never seen 
him myself Perhaps you have, sir." At which a 
titter went round the court, and it put his worship's 
back up. Sam went on to say that he had often 
thought of taking his guinea into wear, and had now 
done it. And he gave the guinea a flick in the face 
of us all. 

i Evidently little good could come of a hardened 
criminal like this; and Justice Whitewicker, who 
thought nothing on earth so grand as the sound of his 
own voice from the bench, gave Sam a piece of his 
mind. In the midst of this a stir arose at the appear- 
ance of Maria Parslet. Mr. Chance led her in; her 
father, sad and shrinking as usual, walked behind 
them. Lawyer Cockermuth — and I liked him for it 
— made a place for his clerk next to himself Maria 
looked modest, gentle and pretty. She wore black 
silk, being in slight mourning, and a dainty white 
bonnet. 



324 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Mr. Dene was asked to take tea with them in the 
parlour on the Tuesday evening, as a matter of con- 
venience, Maria s evidence ran, in answer to questions, 
and she briefly alluded to the reason why. Whilst 
waiting together, he and she, for her father to come 
in, Mr. Dene told her of the finding of the ebony box 
of guineas at Mr. Cockermuth's. She laughingly 
remarked that a guinea was an out-of-date coin now, 
and she was not sure that she had ever seen one. In 
reply to that, Mr. Dene said he had one by him, 
given him by an old uncle some years before ; and he 
went upstairs and brought it down to show to her. 
There could be no mistake, Maria added to Mr. White- 
wicker, who wanted to insinuate a word of doubt, and 
her sweet brown eyes were honest and true as she 
said it ; she had touched the guinea and held it in her 
hand for some moments. 

''Held it and touched it, did you, Miss Parslet?" 
retorted Lawyer Standup. " Pray what appearance 
had it?" 

*' It was a thin, worn coin, sir," replied Maria ; 
''thinner, I think, than a sovereign, but somewhat 
larger ; it seemed to be worn thin at the edge." 

" Whose image was on it ? — what king'.'? ? " 

" George the Third's. I noticed that." 

" Now don t you think, young lady, that the accused 
took this marvellous coin from his pocket, instead of 
from some receptacle above stairs ? *' went on Mr. 
Standup. 

" I am quite sure he did not take it from his pocket 
when before me," answered Maria. " He ran upstairs 
quickly, saying he would fetch the guinea: he had 
nothing in his hands then." 



THE EBONY BOX. 325 

Upon this Lawyer Chance inquired of his learned 
brother why he need waste time in useless questions ; 
begging to remind him that it was not until Wednesday 
morning the box disappeared, so the prisoner could 
not well have had any of its contents about him on 
Tuesday. 

"Just let my questions alone, will you," retorted 
Mr. Standup, with a nod. " I know what I am about. 
Now, Miss Parslet, please attend to me. Was the 
guinea you profess to have seen a perfect coin, or was 
there a hole in it ? " 

" It was a perfect coin, sir.'' 

" And what became of it ? " 

" I think Mr. Dene put it in his waistcoat-pocket : 
I did not particularly notice. Quite close upon that, 
my father came home, and we sat down to tea. No, 
sir, nothing was said to my father about the guinea ; 
if it was, I did not hear it. But he and Mr. Dene 
talked of the box of guineas that had been found." 

" Who was it that called while you were at tea ? " 

"Young Mr. Chance called. We had finished tea 
then, and Mr. Dene took him upstairs to his own 
sitting-room.'' 

" I am not asking you about young Mr. Chance ; 
we shall come to him presently," was the rough-toned, 
but not ill-natured retort. " Somebody else called : 
who was it ? " 

Maria, blushing and paling ever since she stood up 
to the ordeal, grew white now. Mr. Badger had 
called at the door, she answered, and Mr. Dene went 
out to speak to him. Worried by Lawyer Standup 
as to whether he did not come to ask for money, she 
said she believed so, but she did not hear all they said. 



326 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Quiet Mr. Parslet was the next witness. He had 
to acknowledge that he did hear it. Mr. Badger 
appeared to be pressing for some money owing to 
him ; could not tell the amount, knew nothing about 
that, When questioned whether the accused owed 
him money, Parslet said not a shilling ; Mr. Dene had 
never sought to borrow of him, and had paid his 
monthly accounts regularly. 

Upon that, Mr. Badger was produced ; a thin man 
with a neck as stiff as a poker ; who gave his 
reluctant testimony in a sweet tone of benevolence. 
Mr. Dene had been borrowing money from him for 
some time ; somewhere about twenty pounds, he 
thought, was owing now, including interest. He had 
repeatedly asked for its repayment, but only got put 
off with (as he believed) lame excuses. Had certainly 
gone to ask for it on the Tuesday evening ; was 
neither loud nor angry, oh dear, no ; but did tell the 
accused he thought he could give him some if he 
would, and did say that he must have a portion of it 
within a week, or he should apply to Mr. Jacobson, of 
Elm Farm. Did not really mean to apply to Mr. 
Jacobson, had no wish to do any one an injury, but 
felt vexed at the young man's off-handedness, which 
looked like indifference. Knew besides that Mr. Dene 
had other debts. 

Now I'll leave you to judge how this evidence 
struck on the ears of old Jacobson. He leaped to 
the conclusion that Sam had been going all sorts of 
ways, as he supposed he went when in London, and 
might be owing, the mischief only knew how much 
monej^; and he shook his fist at Sam across the 
justice-room. 



THE EBONY BOX. 327 

Mr. Standup next called young Chance, quite to 
young Chance's surprise ; perhaps also to his father's. 
He was questioned upon no end of things — whether he 
did not know that the accused was owing a great deal 
of money, and whether the accused had shown any 
guinea to him when he was in Edgar Street on the 
Tuesday night. Austin answered that he believed 
Mr. Dene owed a little money, not a great deal, so far 
as he knew ; and that he had not seen the guinea or 
heard of it. And in saying all this, Austin's tone 
was just as resentfully insolent to Mr. Standup as he 
dared to make it. 

Well, it is of no use to go on categorically with the 
day's proceedings. When they came to an end, the 
magistrates conferred pretty hotly in a low tone 
amongst themselves, some apparently taking up one 
opinion, as to Sam's guilt, or innocence, and some the 
other. At length they announced their decision, and 
it was as follows. 

"Although the case undoubtedly presents grave 
grounds of suspicion against the accused, Samson 
Reginald Dene — 'Very grave indeed,' interjected Mr. 
White wicker, solemnly — we do not consider them to 
be sufficient to commit him for trial upon ; therefore, 
we give him the benefit of the doubt, and discharge 
him. Should any further evidence transpire, he can 
be brought up again." 

" It was Maria Parslet's testimony about the guinea 
that cleared him," whispered the crowd, as they filed 
out. 

And I think it must have been. It was just im- 
possible to doubt her truth, or the earnestness with 
which she gave it. 



328 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Mr. Jacobson " interviewed " Sara, as the Americans 
say, and the interview was not a loving one. Being 
in the mood, he said anything that came uppermost. 
He forbade Sam to appear at Elm Farm ever again, as 
" long as oak and ash grew ; " and he added that as 
Sam was bent on going to the deuce head foremost, 
he might do it upon his own means, but that he'd 
never get any more help from him. 

The way the Squire lashed up Bob and Blister when 
driving home — for, liking Sam hitherto, he was just as 
much put out as old Jacobson — and the duet they 
kept together in abuse of his misdeeds, was edifying 
to hear. Tod laughed ; I did not. The gig was given 
over this return journey to the two grooms. 

" I do not believe Sam took the box, sir," I said to 
old Jacobson, interrupting a fiery oration. 

He turned round to stare at me. "What do you 
say, Johnny Ludlow ? Yoio do not believe he tooJc the 
hoxV 

'' Well, to me it seems quite plain that he did not 
take it. I've hardly ever felt more sure of anything." 

" Plain ! " struck in the Squire. " How is it plain, 
Johnny ? What grounds do you go upon ? " 

"I judge by his looks and his tones, sir, when 
denying it. They are to be trusted." 

They did not know whether to laugh or scoff at me. 
It was Johnny's way, said the Squire ; always fancying 
he could read the riddles in a man's face and voice. 
But they'd have thrown up their two best market- 
going hats with glee to be able to think it true. 



THE EBONY BOX. 329 



V. 

Samson Reginald Dene was relieved of the charge, 
as it was declared ''not proven ; " all the same, Samson 
Reginald Dene was ruined. Worcester said so. During 
the following week, which was Passion Week, its 
citizens talked more of him than of their prayers. 

Granted that Maria Parslet's testimony had been 
honestly genuine, a theory cropped up to counteract 
it. Lawyer Standup had been bold enough to start it 
at the Saturday's examination: a hundred tongues 
were repeating it now. Sam Dene, as may be remem- 
bered, was present at the finding of the box on Tuesday ; 
he had come up the passage and touched the golden 
guineas in it with the tips of his fingers ; those fingers 
might have deftly extracted one of the coins. No 
wonder he could show it to Maria when he went home 
to tea ! Captain Cockermuth admitted that in counting 
the guineas subsequently he had thought he counted 
sixty ; but, as he knew there were (or ought to be) 
that number in the box, probably the assumption 
misled him, causing him to reckon them as sixty when 
in fact there were only fifty-nine. Which was a bit 
of logic. 

Still, popular opinion was divided. If part of the 
town judged Sam to be guilty, part believed him to be 
innocent. A good deal might be said on both sides. 
To a young man who does not know how to pay his 
debts from lack of means, and debts that he is afraid 
of, too, sixty golden guineas may be a great temptation ; 
and people did not shut their eyes to that. It transpired 
also that Mr. Jacobson, his own uncle, his best friend, 



330 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

had altogether cast Sam off and told him he might now 
go to the dogs his own way. 

Sam resented it all bitterly, and defied the world. 
Far from giving in or showing any sense of shame, he 
walked about with an air, his head up, and that brazen 
guinea dangling in front of him. He actually had the 
face to appear at college on Good Friday (the congrega- 
tion looking askance at him), and sat out the cold 
service of the day : no singing, no organ, and the little 
chorister-boys in black surplices instead of white ones. 
But the crowning act of boldness was to come. Before 
Easter week had lapsed into the past, Sam Dene had 
taken two rooms in a conspicuous part of the town 
and set-up in practice. A big brass plate on the outer 
door displayed his name : " Mr. Dene, Attorney-at- 
law." Sam's friends extolled his courage ; Sam's 
enemies were amazed at his impudence. Captain 
Cockermuth prophesied that the ceiling of that office 
would come tumbling down on its crafty occupant's 
head : it was his gold that was paying for it. 

The Cockermuths, like the town, were divided in 
opinion. Mr. Cockermuth could not believe Sam 
guilty, although the mystery as to where the box could 
be puzzled him as few things had ever puzzled him in 
this life. He would fain have taken Sam back again, 
had it been a right thing to do. What the captain 
thought need not be enlarged upon. While Miss 
Betty felt uncertain ; veering now to this belief, now 
to that, and much distressed either way. 

There is one friend in this world that hardly ever 
deserts us — and that is a mother. Mrs. Dene, a pretty 
little woman yet, had come flying to Worcester, ready 
to fight everybody in it on her son's behalf. Sam of 



THE EBONY BOX. 331 

course made his own tale good to her ; whether it was 
a true one or not he alone knew, but not an angel 
from heaven could have stirred her faith in it. She 
declared that, to her positive knowledge, the old uncle 
had given Sam the guinea. 

It was understood to be Mrs. Dene who advanced 
the money to Sam to set up with; it was certainly 
Mrs. Dene who bought a shutting-up bed (at old 
Ward s), and a gridiron, and a tea-pot, and a three- 
legged table, and a chair or two, all for the back-room 
of the little office, that Sam might go into house- 
keeping on his own account, and live upon sixpence 
a-day, so to say, until business came in. To look at 
Sam's hopeful face, he meant to do it, and to live down 
the scandal. 

Looking at the thing impartially, one might perhaps 
see that Sam was not swayed by impudence in setting- 
up, so much as by obligation. For what else lay open 
to him ? — no firm would engao^e him as clerk with 
that doubt sticking to his coat-tails. He paid some 
of his debts, and undertook to pay the rest before the 
year was out. A whisper arose that it was Mrs. 
Dene who managed this. Sam's adversaries knew 
better ; the funds came out of the ebony box : that, 
as Charles Cockermuth demonstrated, was as sure as 
heaven. 

But now there occurred one thing that I, Johnny 
Ludlow, could not understand, and never shall : why 
Worcester should have turned its back, like an angry 
drake, upon Maria Parslet. The school, where she w^as 
resident teacher, wrote her a cool, polite note, to say 
she need not trouble herself to return after the Easter 
recess. That example was followed. Pious indi- 



332 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

viduals looked upon her as a possible story-teller, in 
danger of going to the bad in Sam's defence, nearly as 
much as Sam had gone. 

It was just a craze. Even Charles Cockermuth 
said there was no sense in blaming Maria : of course 
Sam had deceived her (when pretending to show the 
guinea as his own), just as he deceived other people. 
Next the town called her " bold " for standing up in 
the face and eyes of the Guildhall to give her evidence. 
But how could Maria help that ? It was not her own 
choice : she'd rather have locked herself up in the 
cellar. Lawyer Chance had burst in upon her that 
Saturday morning (not ten minutes after we left the 
house), giving nobody warning, and carried her off 
imperatively, never saying *' Will you, or Won t you." 
It was not his way. i// 

Placid Miss Betty was indignant when the injustice 
came to her ears. What did people mean by it ? she 
wanted to know. She sent for Maria to spend the 
next Sunday in Foregate Street, and marched with 
her arm-in-arm to church (St. Nicholas'), morning and 
evening. 

As the days and the weeks passed, commotion gave 
place to a calm ; Sam and his delinquencies were let 
alone. One cannot be on the grumble for ever. Sam's 
lines were pretty hard ; practice held itself aloof from 
him ; and if he did not live upon the sixpence a-day, 
he looked at every halfpenny that he had to spend 
beyond it. His face grew thin, his blue eyes wistful, 
but he smiled hopefully. 

" You keep up young Dene's acquaintance, I per- 
ceive," remarked Lawyer Chance to his son one even- 



THE EBONY BOX. 333 

ing as they were finishing dinner, for he had met the 
two young men together that day. 

'^ Yes : why shouldn't I ? " returned Austin. 

"Think that charge was a mistaken one, I sup- 
pose ? 

"Well I do, father. He has affirmed it to me in 
terms so unmistakable that I can but believe him. 
Besides, I don't think Dene, as I have always said, 
is the sort of fellow to turn rogue : I don't, indeed." 

" Does he get any practice ? " 

" Very little, I'm afraid." 

Mr. Chance was a man with a conscience. On the 
whole, he felt inclined to think Sam had not helped 
himself to the guineas, but he was by no means sure 
of it : like Miss Betty Cockermuth, his opinion veered, 
now on this side, now on that, like a haunted weather- 
cock. If Sam was not guilty, why, then, Fate had 
dealt hardly with the young fellow — and what would 
the end be ? These thoughts were running through 
the lawyers mind as he talked to his son and sat 
playing with his bunch of seals, which hung down by 
a short, thick gold chain, in the old-fashioned manner. 

" I should like to say a word to him if he'd come to 
me," he suddenly cried. "You might go and bring 
him, Austin." 

" What — this evening ? " exclaimed Austin. 

" Ay ; why not ? One time's as good as another." 

Austin Chance started off promptly for the new 
office, and found his friend presiding over his own tea- 
tray in the little back-room ; the loaf and butter on 
the table, and a red herring on the gridiron. 

'* Hadn't time to get any dinner to-day ; too busy," 
was Sam's apology, given briefly with a flush of the 



334 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

face. '' Mr. Chance wants me ? Well, 111 come. 
What is it for ? " 

" Don't know/' replied Austin. And away they 
went. 

The lawyer was standing at the window, his hands 
in the pockets of his pepper-and-salt trousers, tinkling 
the shillings and sixpences there. Austin supposed 
he was not wanted, and shut them in. 

"I have been thinking of your case a good bit 
lately, Sam Dene," began Mr. Chance, giving Sam a 
seat and sitting down himself ; " and I should like to 
feel, if I can, more at a certainty about it, one way or 
the other." 

"Yes, sir," replied Sam. And you must please to 
note that manners in those days had not degenerated 
to what they are in these. Young men, whether 
gentle or simple, addressed their elders with respect ; 
young women also. " Yes, sir," replied Sam. " But 
what do you mean about wishing to feel more at a 
certainty ? " 

" When I defended you before the magistrates, I did 
my best to convince them that you were not guilty : 
you had assured me you were not : and they discharged 
you. I believe my arguments and my pleadings went 
some way with them." 

" I have no doubt of it, sir, and I thanked you at 
the time with all my heart," said Sam warmly. " Some 
of my enemies were bitter enough against me." 

''But you should not speak in that way — calling 
people your enemies ! " reproved the lawyer. " People 
were only at enmity with you on the score of the 
offence Look here, Sam Dene — did you commit it^ or 
did you not ? " 



THE EBONY BOX. 335 

Sam stared. Mr. Chance had dropped his voice to 
a solemn key, his head was pushed forward, gravity- 
sat on his face. 

"No, sir. No." 

The short answer did not satisfy the lawyer. "Did 
you filch that box of guineas out of Cockermuth's 
room ; or were you, and are you, as you assert, wholly 
innocent ? '' he resumed. " Tell me the truth as before 
Heaven. Whatever it be, I will shield you still." 

Sam rose. " On my sacred word, sir, and before 
Heaven, I have told nothing but the truth. I did not 
take or touch the box of guineas. I do not know 
what became of it.'* 

Mr. Chance regarded Sam in silence. He had 
known young men, when under a cloud, prevaricate 
in a most extraordinary and unblushing manner : to 
look at them and listen to them, one might have said 
they were fit to be canonized. But he thought truth 
lay with Sam now. 

" Sit down, sit down. Dene," he said. " I am glad 
to believe you. Where the deuce could the box have 
got to ? It could not take flight through the ceiling 
up to the clouds, or down to the earth through the 
floor. Whose hands took it ?" 

" The box went in one of two ways," returned Sam. 
" If the captain did not fetch it out unconsciously, and 
lose it in the street, why, somebody must have entered 
the parlour after I left it and carried off the box. 
Perhaps the individual who looked into the room 
when I was sitting there." 

'^ A pity but you had noticed who that was.'' 

" Yes, it is. Look here, Mr. Chance ; a thought has 
more than once struck me — if that person did not 



330 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

come back and take the box, why has he not come 
forward openly and honestly to avow it was himself 
who looked in ? " 

The lawyer gave his head a dissenting shake. " It 
is a ticklish thing to be mixed up in, he may think, 
one that he had best keep out of — though he may be 
innocent as the day. How are you getting on ? " he 
asked, passing abruptly from the subject. 

''Oh, middling," replied Sam. "As well, perhaps, 
as I could expect to get on at first, with all the 
prejudice abroad against me.'* 

"Earning bread- and-cheese ? " 

" Not quite— yet/' 

"Well, see here. Dene — and this is what I chiefly 
sent for you to say, if you could assure me on your 
conscience you deserved it — I may be able to put 
some little business in your hands. Petty matters are 
brought to us that we hardly care to waste time upon : 
111 send them to you in future. I dare say you'll be 
able to rub on by dint of patience. Rome was not 
built in a day, you know." 

" Thank you, sir ; I thank you very truly," breathed 
Sam. " Mr. Cockermuth sent me a small matter the 
other day. If I can make a bare living of it at present, 
that's all I ask. Fame and fortune are not rained 
down upon black sheep." 

Which was so true a remark as to need no con- 
tradiction. 

May was nearing its close then, and the summer 
evenings were long and lovely. As Sam went forth 
from the interview, he thought he would take a walk 
by the river, instead of turning in to his solitary 
rooms. Since entering upon them he had been as 



THE EBONY BOX. 357 

steady as old Time : the accusation and its attendant 
shame seemed to have converted him from a heedless, 
youthful man into a wise old sage of age and care. 
Passing down Broad Street towards the bridge, he 
turned to the left and sauntered along beside the 
Severn. The water glittered in the light of the setting 
sun ; barges, some of them bearing men and women 
and children, passed smoothly up and down on it ; the 
opposite fields, towards St. John's, were green as an 
emerald: all things seemed to wear an aspect of 
brightness. 

All on a sudden things gTew brighter — and Sam's 
pulses gave a leap. He had passed the grand old red- 
stoned wall that enclosed the Bishop's palace, and 
was close upon the gates leading up to the Green, 
when a j^oung lady turned out of them and came 
towards him with a light, quick step. It was Maria 
Parslet, in a pretty summer muslin, a straw hat 
shading her blushing face. For it did blush furiously 
at sight of Sam. 

" Mr. Dene ! " 

'' Maria ! " 

She began to say, hurriedly, that her mother had 
sent her Avith a message to the dressmaker on the 
Parade, and she had taken that way, as being the 
shortest — as if in apology for having met Sam. 

He turned with her, and they paced slowly along 
side by side, the colour on Maria's cheeks coming and 
going with every word he spoke and every look he 
gave her — which seemed altogether senseless and 
unreasonable. Sam told her of his conversation with 
Austin Chance's father, aud his promise to put a few 
things in his way. 

Johnny Ludlow.— V. 22 



338 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' Once let me be making two hundred a-year, Maria, 
and then '' 

" Then what ? '* questioned Maria innocently. 

'' Then I should ask you to come to me, and we'd 
risk it together." 

'' Risk what ? " stammered Maria, turning her head 
]'ight round to watch a barge that was being towed 

'' Risk our luck. Two hundred a-year is not so bad 
to begin upon. I should take the floor above as well 
as the ground-floor I rent now, and we should get 
along. Any way, I hope to try it." 

^^Oh, Mr. Dene!" 

''Now don't 'Mr. Dene' me, young lady, if you 
please. Why, Maria, what else can we do ? A mean, 
malicious set of dogs and cats have turned their backs 
upon us both ; the least we should do is to see if we 
can't do without them. I know you'd rather come to 
me than stay in Edgar Street." 

Maria held her tongue, as to whether she would or 
not. " Mamma is negotiating to get me a situation at 
Cheltenham," she said. 

" You will not go to Cheltenham, or anywhere else, 
if I get any luck," he replied dictatorially. "Life 
would look very blue to me now without you, Maria. 
And many a man and wife, rolling in riches at the 
end, have rubbed on with less than two hundred a-year 
at the beginning. I wouldn't say, mind, but we might 
risk it on a hundred and fifty. My rent is low, you 
see." 

''Ye — es," stammered Maria. "But — I wish that 
mystery of the guineas could be cleared up ! " 

Sam stood still, turned, and faced her. "Why do 



THE EBONY BOX. 339 

you say thafl You are not suspecting that I took 
them ? " 

''Oh dear, NO," returned Maria, losing her breath. 
''I know you did not take them: could not. I was 
only thinking of your practice : so much more would 
come in." 

"Cockermuth has sent me a small matter or two. 
I think I shall get on," repeated Sam. 

They were at their journey's end by that time, at 
the dressmaker's door. '"Good-evening," said Maria, 
timidly holding out her hand. 

Sam Dene took it and clasped it. "Good-bye, my 
darling. I am going home to my bread- and-cheese 
supper, and I wish you were there to eat it with me !" 

Maria sighed. She wondered whether that wonder- 
ful state of things would ever come to pass. Perhaps 
no; perhaps yes. Meanwhile no living soul knew 
aught of these treasonable aspirations; they were a 
secret between her and Sam. Mr. and Mrs. Parslet 
suspected nothing. 

Time went on. Lawyer Chance was as good as his 
word, and put a few small matters of business into the 
hands of Sam Dene. Mr. Cockermuth did the same. 
The town came down upon him for it; though it let 
Chance alone, who was not the sort of man to be 
dictated to. " Well," said Cockermuth in answer, '' I 
don't believe the lad is guilty ; never have believed it. 
Had he been of a dishonest turn, he could have helped 
himself before, for a good deal of my cash passed at 
times through his hands. And, given that he was 
innocent, he has been hardly dealt by." 

Sam Dene was grateful for these stray windfalls, 
and returned his best thanks to the lawyers for them* 



310 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

But they did not amount to much in the aggregate ; 
and a gloomy vision began to present itself to his 
apprehension of being forced to give up the struggle, 
and wandering out in the world to seek . a better 
fortune. The summer assizes drew near. Sam had no 
grand cause to come on at them, or small one either ; 
but it was impossible not to give a thought now and 
again to what his fate might have been, had he stood 
committed to take his trial at them. The popular 
voice said that was only what he merited. 



VI. 

The assizes were held, and passed. One hot day, when 
July was nearing its meridian, word was brought to 
Miss Cockermuth — who was charitable — that a poor 
sick woman whom she befriended, was worse than 
usual, so she put on her bonnet and cloak to pay her a 
visit. The bonnet Avas a huge Leghorn, which shaded 
her face well from the sun, its trimming of straw 
colour; and the cloak was of thin black "taffeta,'' 
edg-ed with narrow lace. It was a lonp^ walk on a hot 
afternoon, for the sick woman lived but just on this 
side Hen wick. Miss Betty had got as far as the bridge, 
and was about to cross it when Sam Dene, coming 
over it at a strapping pace, ran against her. 

'' Miss Betty ! " he cried. " I beg your pardon." 

Miss Betty brought her bonnet from under the 

shade of her large grass-green parasol. " Dear me, is 

it you, Sam Dene ? " she said. '^ Were you walking 

for a wao^er ? " 



THE EBONY BOX. 341 

Sam laughed a little. "I was hastening back to 
my office, Miss Betty. I have no clerk, you know, 
and a client might come in.'' 

Miss Betty gave her head a twist, something between 
a nod and a shake ; she noticed the doubtful tone in 
the "might." ''Yery hot, isn't it?" said she. "I'm 
going up to see that poor Hester Knowles; she's 
uncommon bad, I hear." 

" You'll have a warm walk." 

'^ Ay. Are you pretty well, Sam ? You look thin." 

"Do I? Oh, that's nothing but the heat of the 
weather. I am quite well, thank you. Good-afternoon, 
Miss Betty." 

She shook his hand heartily. One of Sam's worst 
enemies, who might have run in a curricle with 
Charles Cockermuth, as to an out-and-out belief in his 
guilt, was passing at the moment, and saw it. : 

Miss Betty crossed the bridge, turned off into 
Turkey, for it was through those classical regions that 
her nearest and coolest way lay, and so onwards to 
the sick woman's room. There she found the blazing 
July sun streaming in at the wide window, which 
had no blind, no shelter whatever from it. Miss 
Betty had had enough of the sun out-of-doors, without 
having it in. Done up with the walk and the heat, 
she sat down on the first chair, and felt ready to 
swoon right off. ^ 

" Dear me, Hester, this is bad for you ! " she gasped. 

" Did you mean the sun, ma'am ? " asked the sick 
woman, who was sitting full in it, wrapped in a 
blanket or two. " It is a little hot just now, but I 
don't grumble at it ; I'm so cold mostly. As soon as 
the sun goes off the window, I shall begin to shiver." 



342 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' Well-a-day ! " responded Miss Betty, wishing she 
could be cool enough to shiver. ''But if you feel it 
cold now, Hester, what will you do when the autumn 
winds come on ? " 

'' Ah, ma'am, please do not talk of it ! I just can t 
tell what I shall do. That window don't fit tio^ht, 
and the way the wind pours in through it upon me 
as I sit here at evening, or lie in my little bed there, 
passes belief. I'm coughing always then." 

'' You should have some good thick curtains put 
up," said Miss Betty, gazing at the bare window, 
which had a pot of musk on its sill. '' Woollen ones." 

The sick woman smiled sadly. She was very poor 
now, though it had not always been so ; she might as 
well have hoped to buy the sun itself as woollen 
curtains — or cotton curtains either. Miss Betty knew 
that. 

. 'Til think about it, Hester, and see if I've any 
old ones that I could let you have, I'm not sure; 
but I'll look," repeated she — and began to empty her 
capacious dimity pockets of a few items of good things 
she had brought. 

By-and-by, when she was a little cooler, and had 
talked with Hester, Miss Betty set off home again, 
her mind running upon the half-promised curtains. 
'' They are properly shabby," thought she, as she went 
along, "but they'll serve to keep the sun and the 
wind off her." 

She was thinking of those warm green curtains 
that she had picked the braid from that past disastrous 
morning — as the reader heard of, and all the town as 
well. Nothing had been done with them since. 

Getting home, Miss Betty turned into the parlour. 



THE EBONY BOX. 343 

Susan — who had not yet found leisure to fix any time 
for her wedding — found her mistress fanning her hot 
face, her bonnet untied and tilted back. 

'' I've been to see that poor Hester Knowles, Susan/' 
began Miss Betty. 

'^Law, ma'am !" interposed Susan. "What a walk 
for you this scorching afternoon ! All up that wide 
New Eoad ! " 

" You may well say that, girl : but I went Turkey 
away. She's very ill, poor thing ; and that's a fright- 
fully staring window of hers, the sun on it like a 
blazing fire, and not as much as a rag for a blind; 
and the window don't fit, she says, and in cold 
weather the biting wind comes in and shivers her up. 
I think I might give her those shabby old curtains, 
Susan — that were up in Mr. Philip's room, you know, 
before we got the new chintz ones in." 

" So you might, ma'am," said Susan, who was not a 
bad-hearted girl, excepting to the baker's man. " They 
can't go up at any of our windows as they be ; and if 
you had 'em dyed, I don't know as they'd answer 
much, being so shabby." 

"I put them — let me see — into the spare ottoman, 
didn't I? Yes, that was it. And there I suppose 
they must be lying still." 

" Sure enough. Miss Betty," said Susan. " I've not 
touched 'em." 

" Nor I," said Miss Betty. " With all the trouble 
that got into our house at that time, I couldn't give 
my mind to seeing after the old things, and I've not 
thought about them since. Come upstairs with me 
now, Susan ; we'll see what sort of a state they 
are iii," 



344 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

They went up ; and Miss Betty took off lier bonnet 
and cloak and put her cap on. The spare ottoman, 
soft, and red, and ancient, used as a receptacle for 
odds and ends that were not wanted, stood in a 
spacious linen-closet on the first-floor landing. It 
was built out over the back-door, and had a skylight 
above. Susan threw back the lid of the ottoman, and 
Miss Betty stood by. The faded old brown curtains, 
green once, lay in a heap at one end, just as Miss 
Betty had hastily flung them in that past day in 
March, when on her way to look at the chintzes. 

*' They're in a flne rabble, seemingly," observed 
Susan, pausing to regard the curtains. 

'' Dear me ! '' cried Miss Betty, conscience-stricken, 
for she was a careful housewife, " I let them drop in 
any way, I remember. I did mean to have them 
well shaken out-of-doors and properly folded, but that 
bother drove it all out of my head. Take them out, 
girl." 

Susan put her strong arms underneath the heap 
and lifted it out with a fling. Something heavy flew 
out of the curtains, and dropped on the boarded floor 
with a crash. Letting fall the curtains, Susan gave a 
wild shriek of terror and Miss Betty gave a wilder, 
for the floor was suddenly covered with shining gold 
coins. Mr. Cockermuth, passing across the passage 
below at the moment, heard the cries, wondered 
whether the house was on fire, and came hastening 
up. 

'' Oh,'' said he coolly, taking in the aspect of affairs. 
'' So the thief was you, Betty, after all ! " 

He picked up the ebony box, and bent his head to 
look at the guineas. Hiss Betty sank down on ^ 



TFIE EBONY BOX. 345 

tliiee-legged stool — brought in for Philip's children— 
and grew as white as death. 

Yes, it was the missing box of guineas, come to 
light in the same extraordinary and unexpected 
manner that it had come before, without having been 
(as may be said) truly lost. When Miss Betty 
gathered her curtains off the dining-room table that 
March morning, a cumbersome and weighty heap, she 
had unwittingly gathered up the box with them. No 
wonder Sam Dene had not seen the box on the table 
after Miss Betty's departure ! It was a grievous mis- 
fortune, though, that he failed to take notice it was 
not there. 

She had no idea she was not speaking truth in 
saying she saw the box on the table as she left the 
room. Having seen the box there all the morning she 
thought it was there still, and that she saw it, being 
quite unconscious that it was in her arms. Susan, 
too, had noticed the box on the table when she opened 
the door to call her mistress, and believed she was 
correct in saying she saw it there to the last : the 
real fact being that she had not observed it was gone. 
So there the box with its golden freight had lain 
undisturbed, .hidden in the folds of the curtains. But 
for Hester Knowles's defective window, it might have 
stayed there still, who can say how long ? 

Susan, no less scared than her mistress, stood back 
against the closet wall for safety, out of reach of those 
diabolical coins ; Miss Betty, groaning and half-fainting 
on the three-legged stool, sat pushing back her cap 
and her front. The lawyer picked up the guineas and 
counted them as he laid them flat in the box. Sixty 
of them : not one missing. So Sam's guinea v:as his 



54G JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

own ! He had not, as Worcester whispered, trumped 
up the story with Maria Parslet. 

'' John/' gasped poor Miss Betty, beside herself with 
remorse and terror, '' John, what will become of me 
now ? Will anything be done ? " 

'' How ' done ' ? '' asked he. 

" Will they bring me to trial — or anything of that 
— in poor Sam's place ? " 

'' Well, I don't know," answered her brother grimly ; 
'' perhaps not this time. But I'd have you take more 
care in future, Betty, than to hide away gold in old 
curtains." 

Locking the box securely within his iron safe, Mr. 
Cockermuth put on his hat and went down to the 
town hall, where the magistrates, after dispensing 
their wisdom, were about to disperse for the day. He 
told them of the wonderful recovery of the box of 
guineas, of how it had been lost, and that Sam Dene 
was wholly innocent. Their worships were of course 
charmed to hear it, Mr. Whitewicker observing that 
they had only judged Sam by appearances, and that 
appearances had been sufficient (in theory) to hang 
him. 

From the town hall, Mr. Cockermuth turned off to 
Sam's office. Sam was making a great show of busi- 
ness, surrounded by a tableful of imposing parchments, 
but with never a client to the fore. His old master 
grasped his hand. 

" Well, Sam, my boy," he said, '' the tables have 
turned for you. That box of guineas is found." 

Sam never spoke an answering word. His lips 
parted with expectation: his breath seemed to be a 
little short. 



THE EBONY BOX. 347 

'^ Betty had got it all the time. She managed some- 
how to pick it up off the table with those wretched 
old curtains she had there, all unconsciously, of course, 
and it has lain hidden with the curtains upstairs in 
a lumber-box ever since. Betty will never forgive 
herself. She'll have a fit of the jaundice over this." 

Sam drew a long breath. *' You will let the public 
know, sir ? " 

^'Ay, Sam, without loss of an hour. I've begun 
with the magistrates — and a fine sensation the news 
made amidst 'em, I can tell you ; and now I'm going 
round to the newspapers ; and I shall go over to Elm 
Farm the first thing to-morrow. The town took up 
the cause against you, Sam : take care it does not eat 
you now in its repentance. Look here, you'll have 
to come round to Betty, or she'll moan her heart out : 
you won't bear malice, Sam ? " 

'' No, that I won't," said Sam warmly. " Miss Betty 
did not bear it to me. She has been as kind as can 
be all along." 

The town did want to eat Sam. It is the custom 
of the true Briton to go to extremes. Being unable to 
shake Sam's hands quite off, the city would fain have 
chaired him round the streets with honours, as it used 
to chair its newly returned members. 

Captain Cockermuth, sent for post haste, came to 
Worcester all contrition, beseeching Sam to forgive 
him fifty times a-day, and wanting to press the box 
of guineas upon him as a peace-offering. Sam would 
not take it : he laughingly told the captain that the 
box did not seem to carry luck with it. 

And then Sam's troubles were over. And no objec- 
tion was made by his people (as it otherwise might 



MS JOHNNY LUDLOW 

have been) to his marrying Maria Parslet, by way o£ 
recompense. ^' God never fails to bring good out of 
evil, my dear," said old Mrs. Jaeobson to Maria, the 
first time they had her on a visit at Elm Farm. As 
to Sam, he had short time for Elm Farm, or any- 
thing else in the shape of recreation. Practice was 
flowing in quickly: litigants arguing, one with another, 
that a young man, lying for months under an imputa- 
tion of theft, and then coming out of it with flying 
colours, must needs be a clever lawyer. 

" But, Johnny," Sam said to me, when talking of the 
past, '' there's one thing I would alter if I made the 
laws. No person, so long as he is only suspected of 
crime, should have his name proclaimed publicly. I 
am not speaking of murder, you understand, or charges 
of that grave nature ; but of such a case as mine. M}^ 
name appeared in full, in all the local newspapers, 
Samson Reginald Dene, coupled with theft, and of 
course it got a mark upon it. It is an awful blight 
upon a man when he is innocent, one that he may 
never quite live down. Suspicions must arise, I know 
that, of the innocent as well as the guilty, and they 
must undergo preliminary examinations in public and 
submit to legal inquiries : but time enough to proclaim 
Avho the man is when evidence strengthens against 
him, and he is committed for trial ; until then let his 
name be suppressed. At least that is my opinion." 
And it is mine as well as Sam's. 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 



It was Friday night at the Oxford terminus, and all 
the world scrambling for cabs. Sir John and the 
Squire^ nearly lifted off their legs, and too much 
taken aback to fight for themselves, stood against 
the wall, thinking the community had gone suddenly 
mad. Bill Whitney and Tod, tall, strong young 
fellows, able to hold their own anywhere, secured a 
cab at length, and we and our luggage got in and 
on it. 

"To the Mitre." 

" If this is a specimen of Oxford manners, the sooner 
the lads are at home the better," growled the Squire. 
Sir John Whitney was settling his spectacles on his 
nose — nearly lost off it in the scuffle. 

" Snepp told me it was a regular shindy at the 
terminus the first day of term, with all the students 
coming back," said Bill Whitney. 

There had been no end of discussion as to our 
college career. Sir John Whitney said William must 
go to Oxford, as he had been at Oxford himself; 
whereas Brandon stood out against Oxford for me; 
would not hear of it. He preferred Cambridge he 
said : and to Cambridge Johnny Ludlow should go : 
and he, as my guardian, had full power over me. 



350 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

The Squire cared not which university was chosen ; 
but Tod went in for Oxford with all his strong will : 
he said the boating was best there. The result was 
that Mr. Brandon gave way, and we were entered at 
Christchurch. 

Mr. Brandon had me at his house for two days 
beforehand, giving me counsel. He had one of his 
bad colds just then and kept his room, and his voice 
was never more squeaky. The last evening, I sat up 
there with him while he sipped his broth. The fire 
was large enough to roast us, and he had three flannel 
night-caps on. It was that night that he talked to me 
most. He believed with all his heart, he said, that 
the temptations to young men were greater at Oxford 
than at Cambridge ; that, of the two, the more reck- 
less set of men were there : and that was one of the 
reasons why he had objected to Oxford for me. And 
then he proceeded to put the temptations pretty 
strongly before me, and did not mince things, warning 
me that it would require all the mental and moral 
strength I possessed to resist them, and steer clear of 
a course of sin and shame. He then suddenly opened 
the Bible, which was on the table at his elbow, and 
read out a line or tw^o from the thirtieth chapter of 
Deuteronomy. 

" ' See, I have set before you this day life and good, 
and death and evil: therefore choose life, that both 
thou and thy seed may live.' " 

*' That's what I have been striving to set before 
you, Johnny Ludlow. Read that chapter, the whole 
of it, often ; treasure its precepts in your heart ; and 
.may God give you grace to keep them ! " 
. He shook hands with me in silence. I took up my 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 351 

candle and waited a moment, for I thought he was 
going to speak again. 

" Will you try to keep them, lad ? " 

" I will try, sir." 

We were fortunate in getting good rooms at Christ- 
church. Tod's and mine were close together ; Bill 
Whitney's on the floor above. Our sitting-room was 
pleasant ; it had an old cracked piano in it, which 
turned out to be passably fair when it had been 
tinkered and tuned. The windows looked out on the 
trees of the Broad Walk and to the meadows beyond ; 
but trees are bare in winter, and the month was 
January. I had never stayed at Oxford before : and 
I saw that I should like it, with its fine, grand old 
colleges. The day after we got there, Saturday, we 
wrote our names in the dean's book, and saw our 
tutor. The rest of the day was spent in seeing about 
battels and getting into the new ways. Very new to 
us. A civil young fellow, who waited on us as scout, 
was useful ; they called him " Charley " in the college. 
Tod pulled a long face at some of the rules, and did 
not like the prospect of unlimited work. 

" I'll go in for the boating and fishing and driving, 
Johnny ; and you can go in for the books." 

*' All right, Tod." I knew what he meant. It was 
not that he did not intend to take a fair amount of 
work : but to exist without a good share of out-of- 
door life also, would have been hard lines for Todo 

The Sunday services were beautiful. The first 
Sunday of term was a high day, and the cathedral 
was filled. Orders of admission to the public were 
not necessary that day, and a general congregation 
mixed with the students. Sir John and the Squire 



352 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

were staying at the Mitre until Monday. Aftei- 
service we went to promenade in the Broad Walk 
— and it seemed that everybody else went. 

'' Look there ! " cried the Squire, " at this tall clergy- 
man comino^ alono;. I am sure he is one of the canons 
of Worcester." 

It was Mr. Fortescue — Honourable and Keverend. 
He halted for a minute to exchange greetings with 
Sir John Whitney, whom he knew^ and then passed 
on his way. 

" There's some pretty girls about, too,'' resumed the 
Squire, gazing around. '' Not that I'd advise you 
boys to look much at them. Wonder if they often 
walk here ? " 

Before a week had gone by, we were quite at home ; 
had shaken down into our new life as passengers shake 
down in their places in an omnibus ; and made lots of 
friends. Some I liked; some I did not like. There 
was one fellow always coming in — a tall dark man 
with crisp hair ; his name Richardson. He had plenty 
of money and kept dogs and horses, and seemed to go 
in for every kind of fast life the place afforded. Of 
work he did none ; and report ran that he was being- 
watched by the proctor, with whom he was generally 
in hot water. Altogether he was not in good odour : 
and he had a way of mocking at religion as though 
he were an atheist. 

"I heard a bit about Richardson just now," cried 
Whitney, one morning that he had brought his 
commons in to breakfast with us — and the fields out- 
side were white with snow. "Mayhew says he's a 
scamp." 

"Don't think he's much else, myself," said Tod. 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 353 

" I say, just taste this butter ! It's shockingly strong. 
Wonder what it is made of ? " 

''Mayhew says he's a liar as well as a villain. 
There's no speaking after him. Last term a miserable 
affair occurred in the town ; the authorities could not 
trace it home to Richardson though they suspected he 
was the black sheep. Lots of fellows knew he was : 
but he denied it out-and-out. I think we had better 
not have much to do with him." 

"He entertains jolly Avell," said Tod. ^'Johnny, 
you've boiled these eggs too hard. And his funds 
seem to spring from some perpetual gold mine " 

The door opened, and two bull-dogs burst in, 
leaping and howling. Richardson — they were his — 
followed, with little Ford ; the latter a quiet, inoffen- 
sive man, who stuck to his work. 

" Be quiet, you two devils ! " cried Richardson, 
kicking his dogs. " Lie down, will you ? I say, I've 
a wine-coach on to-night in my rooms, after HalL 
Shall be glad to see you all at it." 

Considering the conversation he had broken in 
upon, none of us had a very ready answer at hand. 

"I have heaps of letters to answer to-night, and 
must do it," said Whitney. " Thank you all the same." 

Richardson might have read coolness in the tone ; I 
don't know ; but he turned the back of his chair on 
Bill to face Tod. 

"You have not letters to write, I suppose, Tod- 
hetley?" 

" Not I. I leave letters to Ludlow." 

"You'll come, then?" 

" Can't," said Tod candidly. " Don't mean to go in 
for wine-parties." 

Johnny Ludlow.—V. 23 



354 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

''Oh," said Richardson. ''You 11 tell another tale 
when you Ve been here a bit longer. Will you be 
still, you brutes ? " 

" Hope I shan't/' said Tod. " Wine plays the very 
mischief with work. Should never get any done if I 
Avent in for it." 

'' Do you intend to go up for honours ? " went on 
Richardson. 

" 'Twould be a signal failure if I did. I leave all 
that to Ludlow — as I said by the letters. See to the 
dogs, Richardson." 

The animals had struck up a fight. Richardson 
secured the one and sent the other out with a kick. 
Our scout was coming in, and the dog flew at him. 
No damage ; but a great row. 

"Charley/' cried Tod, "this butter's not fit to eat." 

'' Is it not, sir ? "What's the matter with it ? " 

"The matter with it ? — everything's the matter 
with it." 

"Is that your scout ? " asked Richardson, when the 
man had gone again, holding his dog between his 
knees as he sat. 

" Yes," said Tod. " And your dogs all but made 
mincemeat of him. You should teach them better 
manners." 

" Serve him right if they had. His name's Tasson/' 

" Tasson, is it ? We call him Charley here." 

" I know. He's a queer one." 

" How is he queer ? " 

" He^s pious." 

" He's what ? '* 

''Pious/' repeated Richardson, twisting his mouth. 
*^ A saint ; a cant ] a sneak." 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 355 

'' Good gracious ! " cried Bill Whitney. 

'' You think I'm jesting ! Ask Ford here. Tell it, 
Ford.'' 

'' Oh, it's true," said Ford : " true that he goes in for 
piety. Last term there was a freshman here named 
Carstairs. He was young ; rather soft ; no experience, 
you know, and he began to go the pace. One night 
this Charley, his scout, fell on his knees, and besought 
him with tears not to go to the bad ; to pull up in 
time and remember what the end must be ; and — and 
so on." 

^^WhatdidCarstairsdo?" 

" Do ! why turned him out," put in Richardson. 
Carstairs, by the way, has taken his name off the 
books, or had to take it off.'' 

" Charley is civil and obliging to us," said Whitney. 
'' Never presumes." 

How much of the tale was gospel we knew not; 
but for my own part, I liked Charley. There was 
something about him quite different from scouts and 
servants in general — and by the way, I don't think 
Charley was a scout, only a scout's help — but in 
appearance and diction and manner he was really 
superior. A slim, slight young fellow of twenty, with 
straight fine light hair and blue eyes, and a round spot 
of scarlet on his thin cheeks. 

''I say, Charley, they say you are pious," began 
Bill Whitney that same day after lecture, when the 
man was bringing in the bread-and-cheese from the 
buttery. 

He coloured to the roots of his light hair, and did 
not answer. Bill never minded what be said to any 
one. 



35G JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

'' You were scout to Mr. Carsfcairs. Did you take 
his morals under your special protection ? " 

" Be quiet, Whitney," said Tod in an undertone. 

"And constitute yourself his guardian-angel-in- 
ordinary ? Didn't you go down on your knees to 
him with tears and sobs, and beseech him not to go 
to the bad ? " went on Bill. 

" There's not a word of truth in it, sir. One even- 
ing when Mr. Carstairs was lying on his sofa, tired 
and ill — for he was beginning to lead a life that had 
no rest in it, hardly, day or night, a folded slip of 
paper was brought in from Mr. Richardson, and Mr. 
Carstairs bade me read it to him. It was to remind 
him of some appointment for the night. Mr. Carstairs 
was silent for a minute, and then burst out with a 
kind of sharp cry, painful to hear. 'By Heaven, if 
this goes on, they'll ruin me, body and soul ! I've a 
great mind not to go.' I did speak then, sir ; I told 
him he was ill, and had better stay at home ; and I 
said that it was easy enough for him to pull up then, 
but that when one got too far on the down-hill path 
it was more difficult." 

" Was that all ? " cried Whitney. 

'' Every word, sir. I should not have spoken at all 
but that I had known Mr. Carstairs before we came 
here. Mr. Richardson made a great deal of it, and 
gave it quite a different colouring." 

" Did Mr. Carstairs turn you away for that ? " I 
asked of Charley ; when he came back for the things, 
and the other two had gone out. 

" Three or four days after it happened, sir, Mr. 
Carstairs stopped my waiting on him again. I 
think it was through Mr, Richardson. Mr. Carstairs 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 357 

had refused to go out with him the evening it 
occurred.'^ 

" You knew Mr. Carstairs before he came to Oxford. 
Where was it ? " 

' "It was '^ he hesitated, and then went on. " It 

was at the school he was at in London, sir. I was a 
junior master there." 

Letting a plate fall — for I was helping to pack them, 
wanting the table — I stared at the fellow. " A master 

there and " and a servant here, I all but said, but 

I stopped the words. 

" Only one of the outer masters, attending daily," 
he went on quietly. " I taught writing and arithmetic, 
and English to the juniors." 

^' But how comes it that you are here in this post, 
Charley?" 

" I had reasons for wishing to come to live at Oxford, 
sir." ^ .. 

" But why not have sought out something better 
than this ? " 

" I did seek, sir. But nothing of the kind was to 
be had, and this place offered. There's many a one, 
sir, falls into the wrong post in life, and can never 
afterwards get into the right one." 

" But— do you— like this ? " 

" Like it, sir ; no ! But I make a living at it. One 
thing I shall be always grateful to Mr. Carstairs for : 
that he did not mention where he had known me. I 
should not like it to be talked of in the college, espe- 
cially by Mr, Kichardson." 

He disappeared with his tray as he spoke. It 
sounded quite mysterious. But I took the hint, and 
said nothing. 



358 JOHNNY LUDLOW, 

The matter passed. Charley did not put on any 
mentorship to us, and the more we saw of him the 
more we liked him. But an impression gradually 
dawned upon us that he was not strong enough for 
his place. Carrying a heavy tray upstairs would set 
him panting like an old man, and he could not run 
far or fast. 

One day I was hard at work, Tod and Whitney 
being off somewhere, driving tandem, when a queer, 
ugly-sounding cough kept annoying me from outside : 
but whether it came from dog or man I could not tell. 
Opening the door at last, there sat Charley on the 
stairs, his head resting against the wall, and his cheeks 
brighter than a red leaf in autumn. 

*' What, is it you, Charley ? Where did you pick 
up that cough ? " 

'^ I beg your pardon, sir," said he, starting up. " I 
thought your rooms were empty." 

" Come in till the fit's over. You are in a regular 
draught there. Come along," for he hesitated — '^ I 
want to shut the door." 

He came in, coughing finely, and I gave him the 
chair by the fire. It was nothing, he said, and would 
soon be gone. He had caught it a day or two back in 
the bleak east wind: the college was draughty, and he 
had to be on the run out-of-doors in all sorts of 
weather. 

" Well, you know, Charley, putting east winds and 
draughts aside, you don't seem to be quite up to your 
work here in point of strength." 

*' I was up to it, sir, when I took it. It\s a failing 
in some of our family, sir, to have weak lungs. I 
Bhall be all right again, soon." 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 359 

The coughing was over, and he got up to go away, 
evidently not liking to intrude. There was a degree 
of sensitiveness about him that, of itself, might have ' 
shown he was superior to his position. 

'' Take a good jorum of treacle-posset, Charley, at 
bed-time." 

* * * «- *if « 

Spring weather came in with February. The biting 
cold and snow of January disappeared, and genial 
sunshine warmed the earth again. The first Sunday 
in this same February month, from my place at morn- 
ing service, looking out on the townsfolk who had 
come in with orders, I saw a lady, very little and 
pretty, staring fixedly at me from afar. The face — 
where had I seen her face ? It seemed familiar, but I 
could not tell how or where I had known it. A small 
slight face of almost an ivory white, and wide-open 
light blue eyes that had plenty of confidence in them. 

Sophie Chalk ! I should have recognized her at the 
first moment but for the different mode in which her 
hair was dressed. Wonderful hair! A vast amount 
of it, and made the most of. She wore it its natural 
colour to-day, brown, and the red tinge on it shone 
like burnished gold. She knew me ; that was certain ; 
and I could not help watching her. Her eyes went 
roving away presently, possibly in search of Tod. I 
stole a glance at him ; but he did not appear to see 
her. What brought her to Oxford ? 

We got out of church. I took care to hold my 
tongue. Tod had cared for Sophie Chalk — there could 
be little doubt of it — as one never cares for anybody 
again in life : and it might be just as well — in spite 
pf the expose of mademoiselle's false ways and mis- 



360 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

doings-r-that they did not meet. Syrens are syrens 
all the world over. 

The day went on to a bright moonlight night. Tod 
and I, out for a stroll, were standing within the shade 
of the fine old Magdalen Tower, talking to a fellow of 
Trinity, when there came up a lady of delicate presence, 
the flowers in her bonnet exhaling a faint odour of 
perftime. 

*' I think I am not mistaken — I am sure — yes, I am 
sure it is Mr. Ludlow. And — surely that cannot be 
Mr. Todhetley?" 

Tod wheeled round at the soft, false voice. The 
daintily gloved hand was held out to him ; the fair, 
false face was bent close : and his own face turned red 
and white with emotion. I saw it even in the shade 
of the moonlight. Had she been strolling about to 
look for us ? Most likely. A few moments more, and 
we were all three walking onwards together. 

'' Only fancy my position ! " she gaily said. '' Here 
am I, all forlorn, set down alone in this great town, 
and must take care of myself as I best can. The 
formidable gowns and caps frighten me." 

''The gowns and caps will do you no harm — Miss 
Chalk," cried Tod — and he only just saved himself 
from saying " Sophie." 

"Do you think not," she returned, touching the 
sleeve of her velvet jacket, as if to brush off a fly. 
*' But I beg you will accord me my due style and title, 
Mr. Todhetley, and honour me accordingly. I am no 
longer Miss Chalk. I am Mrs. Everty." 

So she had married Mr. Everty after all ! She 
minced along between us in her silk gown, her hands 
in her ermine mu£[* that looked made for a doll. At 



OUK FIEST TERM AT OXFORD. 361 

the private door of a shop in High Street she halted, 
rang the bell, and threw the door open. 

" You will walk up and take a cup of tea with me. 
Nay, but you must= — or I shall think you want to hold 
yourselves above poor little me, now you are grand 
Oxford men.'' 

She went along the passage and up the stairs : 
there seemed no resource but to follow. In the sit- 
ting-room, which was very well furnished and looked 
out upon the street, a fire burned brightly; and a 
lamp and tea-things stood on the table. 

" Where have you been ? — keeping me waiting for 
my tea in this way ! You never think of any one but 
yourself: never." 

The querulous complaint, and thin, shrill voice came 
from a small dark girl who sat at the window, peering 
out into the lighted street. I had not forgotten the 
sharp-featured sallow face and the deep-set eyes. It 
was Mabel Smith, the poor little lame and deformed 
girl I had seen in Torriana Square. She really did not 
look much older or bigger, and she spoke as abruptly 
as ever. 

" I remember you, Johnny Ludlow." 

Mrs. Everty made the tea. Her dress, white one 
way, green the other, gleamed like silver in the lamp- 
light. It had a quantity of white lace upon it : light 
green ribbons were twisted in her hair. '' I should 
think it would be better to have those curtains drawn, 
Mabel. Your tea's ready : if you will come to it." 

'^But I choose to have the curtains open and 111 
take my tea here," answered Mabel. ^ " You may be 
going out again for hours, and what company should 
I have but the street? I don't like to be shut up 



362 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

in a strange room: I might see ghosts. Johnny 
Ludlow, that's a little coffee-table by the wall : if 
you'll put it here it will hold my cup and saucer." 

I put it near her with her tea and plate of bread- 
and-butter. 

" Won't you sit by me ? I am very lonely. Those 
other two can talk to one another." 

So I carried my cup and sat down by Mabel. The 
'^ other two/' as Mabel put it, were talking and laughing. 
Tod was taking a lesson in tea-making from her/ and 
she called him awkward. 

*' Are you living here ? " I asked of Mabel under 
cover of the noise. 

"Living here! no/' she replied in her old abrupt 
fashion. '' Do you think papa would let me be living 
over a shop in Oxford ? My grandmamma lives near 
the town, and she invited me down on a visit to her. 
There was no one to bring me, and she said she would " 
— indicating Sophie — " and we came yesterday. Well, 
would you believe it ? Grandmamma had meant next 
Saturday, and she could not take us in, having visitors 
already. I wanted to go back home ; but she said she 
liked the look of Oxford, and she took these rooms for 
a week. Two guineas without fires and other extras : 
I call it dear. How came she to find you out, 
Johnny ? " 

" We met just now. She tells us she is Mrs. Everty 
now." 

" Oh yes, they are married. And a nice bargain 
Mr. Everty has in her ! Her dresses must cost twenty 
pounds apiece. Some of them thirty pounds ! Look 
at the lace on that one. Mrs. Smith, papa's wife, 
gives her a good talking-to sometimes, telling her Mr, 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 363 

Everty's income won't stand it. I should think it 
would not ! — though I fancy he has a small share in 
papa's business now/' 

'' Do they live in London ? " 

'' Oh yes, they live in London. Close to us, too ! 
In one of the small houses in Torriana Street. She 
wanted to take a large house in the square like ours, 
but Mr. Everty was too wise." 

Talking to this girl, my thoughts back in the past, 
I wondered whether Sophie's people had heard of the 
abstraction of Miss Deveen's emeralds. But it was 
not likely. To look at her now : watching her 
fascinating ease, listening to her innocent reminiscences 
of the time we had all spent together at Lady Whitney's, 
I might have supposed she had taken a dose of the 
waters of Lethe, and that Sophie Chalk had always 
been guileless as a child ; an angel without wings. 

" She has lost none of her impudence, Tod," I said 
as we went home. " In the old days, you know, we 
used to say she'd fascinate the hair off our heads, give 
her the chance. She'd wile off both ears as well now. 
A good thing she's married ! " 

Tod broke into a whistle, and went striding on. 

Before the week was out, Sophie Chalk — we 
generally called her by the old name — had become 
intimate with some of the men of different colleges. 
Mabel Smith went to her grandmother s, and Sophie 
had nothing to do but exhibit her charms in the 
Oxford streets and entertain her friends. The time 
went on. Hardly an evening passed but Tod was 
there ; Bill Whitney went sometimes ; I rarely. Sophie 
did not fascinate me, whatever she might do by others. 
Sophie treated her guests to wine and spirits, and to 



364 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

unlimited packs of cards. Bill Whitney said one night 
in a joking way that he was not sure but she might 
be indicted for keeping a private gaming-house. 
Eichardson was one of her frequent evening visitors, 
and she would let him take his bull-dogs to make a 
morning caU. There would be betting over the cards 
in the evenings, and she did not attempt to object. 
Sophie would not play herself; she dispersed her 
fascinations amidst the company while they played, and 
sang songs at the piano — one of the best pianos to be 
found in Oxford. There set in a kind of furore for 
pretty Mrs. Everty ; the men who had the entree there 
went wild over her charms, and vied with each other 
in making her costly presents. Sophie broke into 
raptures of delight over each with the seeming sim- 
plicity of a child, and swept all into her capacious net. 

I think it was receiving those presents that was 
keeping her in Oxford ; or helping to keep her. 
Some of them were valuable. Very valuable indeed 
was a set of diamonds, brooch and ear-rings, that soft 
young calf, Gaiton, brought her ; but what few brains 
the viscount had were clean dazzled away by Sophie's 
attractions : and Richardson gave her a bejewelled fan 
that must have cost a small fortune. If Sophie Chalk 
did spend her husband's money, she was augmenting 
her stock of precious stones — and she had not lost her 
passion for them. 

One morning my breakfast was brought in by a 
strange fellow, gloomy and grim. Tod had gone to 
breakfast with Mayhew. 

" Where's Charley ? " I asked. 

'' Sick," was the short answer. 

'' What's the matter with him ? " 



"OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 3G5 

'' Down with a cold, or something." 

And we had this surly servant for ever so long 
to come : and I m sorry to say got so accustomed 
to seeing his face as to forget sick Charley. 



II. 

'' Will you go up the river for a row, Johnny ? '' 

'' I don't mind if I do." 

The questioner was Bill Whitney; who had come 
in to look for Tod. I had nothing particular on hand 
that afternoon, and the skies were blue and the sun 
golden. So we went down to the river together. 

'' Where has Tod got to ? " he asked. 

" Goodness knows. IVe not seen him since lecture 
this morning." 

We rowed up to Godstowe. Bill disappeared with 
some friend of his from Merton s, who had watched us 
put in. I strolled about. Every one knows the dark 
pool of water there. On the bench under the foliage, 
so thick in summer, but bare yet in this early season, 
warm and sunny though it was, sat a man w^^apped 
in a great-coat, whom I took at first to be a skeleton 
with painted cheeks. But one does not care to stare 
at skeletons, knowing they'd help their looks if they 
could; and I was passing him with my face turned 
the other way. 
• '* Good-afternoon, sir." 

I turned at the hollow words — hollow in sound as 
though they came out of a drum. It was Charley : 
the red paint on his thin cheeks was nothing but 



366 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

natural hectic, and the blue of his eyes shone painfully 
bright. 

'' Why, what's the matter, Charley ? '' 

"A fly-man, who had to drive here and back, 
brought me with him for a mouthful of fresh air, it 
being so warm and bright. It is the first time I have 
been able to get out, sir." 

" You are poorly, Charley." I had all but said 
''dying." But one can only be complimentary to a 
poor fellow in that condition. 

" Very ill I have been, sir ; but I'm better. At one 
time I never thought I should get up again. It's this 
beautiful warm weather coming in so early that has 
restored me." 

'' I don't know about restored ? You don't look 
great things yet." 

" You should have seen me a short while ago, sir ! 
I'm getting on." 

tying by his side, on a piece of paper, was a thick 
slice, doubled, of bread-and-butter, that he must have 
brought with him. He broke a piece off, and ate it. 

" You look hungry, Charley." 

'' That's the worst of it, sir ; I'm always hungry," he 
answered, and his tone from its eagerness was quite 
painful to hear, and his eyes grew moist, and the 
hectic spread on his cheeks. " It is the nature of the 
complaint, I'm told : and poor mother was the same, 
I could be eating and drinking every hour, sir, and 
hardly be satisfied." 

'' Come along to the inn, and have some tea." 

" No, sir ; no, thank you," he said, shrinking back. 
'' I answered your remark thoughtlessly, sir, for it's 
the truth ; not with any notion that it would make 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 367 

you ask me to take anything. And I've got some 
bread-and-butter here." 

Going indoors, I told them to serve him a good tea, 
with a big dish of bacon and eggs, or some relishing 
thing of that sort. "Whitney came in and heard me. 

" You be hanged, Johnny ! We are not going in for 
all that, here ! " 

/'It's not for us. Bill; '4t's for that poor old scout, 
Charley. He's as surely dying as that you and I are 
talking. Come and look at him : you never saw such 
an object. I don't believe he gets enough to eat." 

Whitney came, and did nothing but stare. Charley 
went indoors with a good deal of pressing, and we 
saw him sit down to the feast. Whitney stayed ; I 
went out-of-doors again. 

I remembered a similar case. It was that of a 
young woman who used to make Lena's frocks. She 
fell into a decline. Her appetite was wonderful. 
Anything good and substantial to eat and drink, she 
was always craving for : and it all seemed to do her 
no good. Charley Tasson's sickness must be of the 
same nature. She died : and he 

I was struck dumb ! Seated on the bench under 
the trees, my thoughts back in that past time, there 
came two figures over the rustic bridge. A lady and 
gentleman, arm-in-arm : she in a hat and blue feather 
and dainty lace parasol ; and he with bent head and 
words softened to a whisper. Tod ! — and Sophie 
Chalk ! 

" Good gracious ! There's Johnny Ludlow ! " 

She loosed his arm as she spoke, and came sailing 
up to me, her gold bracelets jingling as she gave her 
hand. I don't believe there are ten women in England 



368 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

who could get themselves up as effectively as did 
Sophie Chalk. Tod looked black as thunder. 

" What the devil brings you here, Johnny ? " 

" I rowed up with Whitney." 

A pause. ''Who else is here ? " 

" Forbes of Merton : Whitney has been about with 
him. And I suppose a few others. We noticed a 
skiff or two waiting. Perhaps one was yours." 

I spoke indifferently, determined he should not 
know I was put out. Seeing him there — I was going : 
to say on the sly — with that beguiling syren, who 
was to foretell what pitfalls she might charm him 
into ? He took Madame Sophie on his arm again to 
continue their promenade, and I lost sight of them. 

I did not like it. It was not satisfactory. He had 
rowed her up — or perhaps driven her up — and was 
marching about with her tete-a-tete under the sweet 
spring sunshine. No great harm in itself this pastime : 
but he might grow too fond of it. That she had re- 
acquired all her strong influence over Tod's heart was 
clear as the stars on a frosty night. Whitney called 
out to me that it was time to think of going back. 
I got into the boat with him, saying nothing. * 

Charley told me where he lived — *^Up Staggs 
Entry " — for I said I would call to see him. Just for 
a day or two there seemed to be no time ; but I got 
there one evening when Tod had gone to the syren's. 
It was a dark, dusky place, this Stagg's Entry, and, 
I think, is done away with now, with several houses 
crowded into it. Asking for Charles Tasson, of a 
tidy, motherly woman on the stairs, she went before 
me, and threw open a door. 

" Here's a gentleman to see you, Mr. Charley." 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 369 

He was lying in a bed at the end of the room near 
the fire, under the lean-to roof. If I had been shocked 
at seeing him in the open air, in the glad sunshine, I 
was doubly so now in the dim light of the tallow 
candle. He rose in bed. 

''It's very kind of you to come here, sir ! I'm sure 
I didn't expect you to remember it." 

*' Are you worse, Charley ? " 

"I caught a fresh cold, sir, that day at Godstowe. 
And I'm as weak as a rat too — hardly able to creep 
out of bed. Nanny, bring a chair for this gentleman." 

One of the handiest little girls I ever saw, with the 
same shining blue eyes that he had, and plump, pretty 
cheeks, laid hold of a chair. I took it from her and 
sat down. 

'' Is this your sister, Charley ? " 

"Yes, sir. There's only us two left together. We 
were eight of us once. Three went abroad, and one 
is in London, and two dead." 

" What doctor sees you ? " 

" One comes in now and then, sir. My illness is not 
much in a doctor's way. There's nothing he could 
do : nothing for me but to wait patiently for summer 
weather." 

*' What have j^ou had to eat to-day ? " 

" He had two eggs for his dinner : I boiled them," 
said little Nannj^ *'And Mrs. Cann brought us in 
six herrings, and I cooked one for tea; and he'll have 
some ale and bread-and-butter for supper." 

She spoke like a little important housekeeper. But 
I wondered whether Charley was badly off. 

Mrs. Cann, the same woman who had spoken to me, 
came out of her room opposite as I was going away. 

Johnny Ludlow. — V. 24 



370 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

She followed me downstairs, and began to talk in an 
undertone. "A sad thing, ain't it, sir, to see him 
a-lying there so helpless ; and to know that it has laid 
hold of him for good and all. He caught it from his 
mother." 

/' How do you mean ? '' 

''She died here in that room, just as the winter 
come in, with the same complaint — decline they call 
it ; and he waited on her and nursed her, and must 
have caught it of her. A good son he was. They 
were well off once, sir, but the father just brought em 
to beggary ; and Charley — he had a good education of 
his own — came down from London when his mother 
got ill, and looked out for something to do here that 
he might stay with her. At first he couldn't find 
anything ; and when he was at a sore pinch, he took 
a place at Christchurch College as scout's helper. He 
had to pocket his pride : but there was Nanny as well 
as his mother." 

'a see." 

" He'd been teacher in a school up in London, sir, 
by day, and in the evenings he used to help some 
young clergyman as scripture-reader to the poor in 
one of them crowded parishes we hear tell of: he was 
always one for trying to do what good he could. 
Naturally he'd be disheartened at falling to be a bed- 
maker in a college, and I'm afraid the work was too 
hard for him : but, as I say, he was a good son. The 
mother settled in Oxford after her misfortunes." 

" How is he supported now ? And the little girl ? " 

'' It's not over much of a support," said Mrs. Cann 
with disparagement. '' Not for him, that's a-craving 
for meat and drink every hour. The eldest brother is 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 371 

in business in London, sir, and he sends them wha.t 
they have. Perhaps he's not able to do more." 

It was not late. I thought I would, for once, pay 
Mrs. Everty a visit. A run of three minutes, and I 
was at her door. 

They were there — the usual set. Tod, and Richard- 
son, and Lord Gaiton, and the two men from Magdalen, 
and — well, it's no use enumerating — seven or eight 
in all. Richardson and another were quarrelling at 
^carte, four were at whist ; Tod was sitting apart with 
Sophie Chalk. 

She was got up like a fairy at the play, in a 
cloud of thin white muslin ; her hair hanging around 
and sparkling with gold dust, and little gleams of 
gold ornaments shining about her. If ever Joseph 
Todhetley had need to pray against falling into 
temptation, it was during the weeks of that unlucky 
term. 

"This is quite an honour, Johnny Ludlow," said 
Madame Sophie, rising to meet me, her eyes sparkling 
with what might have been taken for the most hearty 
welcome. " It is not often you honour my poor little 
room, sir." 

"It is not often I can find the time for it, Mrs. 
Everty. Tod, I came in to see whether you were 
ready to go in." 

He looked at his watch hastily, fearing it might be 
later than it was ; and answered curtly and coolly. 

" Ready ? — no. I have not had my revenge yet at 
ecarte." 

Approaching the ecarte table, he sat down. Mrs. 
Everty drew a chair behind Lord Gaiton, and looked 
over his hand. 



372 . JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

The days passed. I had two cares on my mind, 
and they bothered me. The one was Tod and his 
dangerous infatuation ; the other, poor djdng Charley 
Tasson. Tod was losing frightfully at those card- 
tables. Night after night it went on. Tod s steps 
were drawn thither by a fascination irresistible : and 
whether the cards or their mistress were the more 
subtle potion for him, or what was to be the ending of 
it all, no living being could tell. < . , 

'f As to Stagg's Entry, my visits to it had grown 
nearly as much into a habit as Tod's had to High 
Street. When I stayed away for a night, little Nanny 
would whisper to me the next that Charley had not 
taken his eyes off the door. Sick people always like 
to see visitors. 

''Don't let him want for anything, Johnny," said 
Tod. " The pater would blow us up." 

The time ran on, and the sands of Charley's life ran 
with it. One Wednesday evening upon going in late, 
and not having many minutes to stay, I found him on 
the bed in a dead faint, and the candle guttering in 
the socket. Nanny was nowhere. I went across the 
passage to Mrs. Cann's, and she was nowhere. It was 
an awkward situation; for I declare that for the 
moment I thought he was gone. 

Knowing most of Nanny's household secrets, I 
looked in the candle-box for a fresh candle. Charley 
was stirring then, and I gave him some wine. He 
had had a similar fainting-fit at mid-day, he said, 
which had frightened them, and Nanny had fetched 
the doctor. She was gone now, he supposed, to fetch 
some medicine. 

"Is this the "end, sir?" 



I 



OUK FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 373 

He asked it quite calmly. I could not tell : but to 
judge byliis wan face I thought it might be. And 
my time was up and more than up : and neither 
Nanny nor Mrs. Cann came. The wine revived him 
and he seemed better ; quite well again : well, for him. 
But I did not like to leave him. alone. 

" Would you mind reading to me, sir ? " he asked. , 

" What shall I read, Charley ? " 

" It may be for the last time, sir. I'd like to hear 
the service for the burial of the dead." « 

So I read it every word, the long lesson, and all. 
Nanny came in before it was finished, medicine in 
hand, and sat down in silence with h.er bonnet on* 
She had been kept at the doctor's. Mrs. Cann Avas 
the next to make her appearance, having been abroad 
on some business of her own : and I got away when 
it was close upon midnight. 

" Your name and college, sir." 

" Ludlow. Christchurch." 

It was the proctor. He had pounced full upon m© 
as I was racing home. And the clocks were striking 
twelve ! 

" Ludlow— Christchurch," he repeated, nodding his 
head. i 

"I am sorry to be out so late, sir, against rules, 
but I could not help it. I have been sitting with a 
sick man." 

*' Very good," said he blandly ; " you can tell that 
to-morrow to the dean. Home to your quarters 
now, if you please, Mr. Ludlow." 

And I knew he believed me just as much as he 
would had I told him I'd been up in a balloon. 

" You are a nice lot, Master Johnny ! " 



374 JOHNNY. LUDLOW. 

The salutation was Tod's. He and Bill Whitney- 
were sitting over the fire in our room. 

''I couldn't help being late." 

" Of course not ! As to late — it's only midnight. 
Next time you'll come in with the milk." 

"Don't jest. I've been with that poor Charley, 
and I think he's dying. The worst of it is, the 
proctor has just dropped upon me." 
• "No!" It sobered them both, and they put aside 
their mockery. Bill, who had the tongs in his hand, 
let them go down with a crash. 

" It's a thousand pities, Johnny. Not one of us has 
been before the dean yet." 

'* I can only tell the dean the truth." 

" As if he'd believe you ! By Jupiter ! Once get 
one of our names up, and those proctors will track 
every step of the ground we tread on. They watch a 
marked man as a starving cat watches a mouse." 

With the morning came in the requisition for me 
to attend before the dean. When I got there, who 
should be stealing out of the room quite sheepishly, 
his face down and his ears red, but Gaiton. 

" Is it your turn, Ludlow ! " he cried, closing the 
room-door as softly as though the dean had been asleep 
inside. 

" What have you been had up for, Gaiton ? " 

" Oh, nothing. I got knocking about a bit last 
night, for Mrs. Everty did not receive, and came 
across that confounded proctor." 

" Is the dean in a hard humour ? " 

" Hard enough, and be hanged to hin ! It's not the 
dean : he's ill, or something ; perhaps been making a 
night of it himself: and Applerigg's on duty for him. 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 375 

Dry old scarecrow ! For two pins, Ludlow, I'd take 
my name off the books, and be free of the lot." 
. Dr. Applerigg had the reputation of being one of 
the strictest of college dons. He was like a maypole, 
just as tall and thin, with a long, sallow face, and 
enough learning to set up the reputations of three 
archbishops for life. The doctor Avas marching up 
and down the room in his college-cap, and turned his 
spectacles on me. 

" Shut the door, sir.'' 

While I did as I was bid, he sat down at an open 
desk near the fire and looked at a paper that had 
some writing on it. 

" What age may you be, Mr. Ludlow ? " he sternly 
asked, when a question or two had passed. And I 
told him my age. 

'' Oh i And don't you think it a very disreputable 
thing, a great discredit^ sir, for a young fellow of your 
years to be found abroad by your proctor at mid- 
night ? " 

" But I could not help being late, sir, last night ; 
and I was not abroad for any purpose of pleasure. I 
had been staying with a poor fellow who is sick : 
dying, in fact : and— and it was not my fault, sir." 

" Take care, young man," said he, glaring through 
his spectacles. '' There's one thing I can never forgive 
if deliberately told me, and that's a lie.'^ 

"I should be sorry to tell a lie, sir," I answered: 
and by the annoyance so visible in his looks and tones, 
it was impossible to help fancying he had found out, 
or thought he had found out, Qaiton in one. " What 
I have said is truth." 

" Go over again what you did say," cried he, very 



376 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

shortly, after looking at his paper again and then 
hard at me. And I went over it. 

^' What do you say the man's name is ? " 

''Charles Tasson, sir. He Avas our scout until he 
fell ill." 

"Pray do you make a point, Mr. Ludlow, of visiting 
all the scouts and their friends who may happen to 
fall sick ? " 

" No, sir," I said, uneasily, for there was ridicule in 
his tone, and I knew he did not believe a word. " I 
don't suppose I should ever have thought of visiting 
Tasson, but for seeing him look so ill one afternoon 
up at Godstowe." 

"He must be very ill to be at Godstowe!" cried 
Dr. Applerigg. " Very ! " 

" He was so ill, sir, that I thought he was dying 
then. Some flyman he knew had driven him to 
Godstowe for the sake of the air." 

" But what's your motive, may I ask, for going to 
sit with him ? " He had a way of laying emphasis on 
certain of his words. 

" There's no motive, sir : except that he is lonely 
and dying.'* 

The doctor looked at me for what seemed ten 
minutes. " What is this sick man's address, pray ? " 

I told him the address in Stagg's Entry; and he 
wrote it down, telling me to present myself again 
before him the following morning. 

That day, I met Sophie Chalk; her husband was 
with her. She nodded and seemed gay as air: he 
looked dark and sullen as he took off his hat. I 
carried the news into college. 

" Sophie Chalk has her husband down, Tod/' 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 377 

'•' Queen Anne's dead/' retorted he. 

" Oh, you knew it ! " And I might have guessed 
that he did by his not having spent the past evening 
in High Street, but in a fellow's rooms at Oriel. And 
he was as cross as two sticks. 

" What a fool she must have been to go and throw 
herself away upon that low fellow Everty !" he ex- 
claimed, putting his shoulders against the mantelpiece 
and stamping on the carpet with one heel. 

" Throw herself away ! Well, Tod, opinions vary. 
"J think she was lucky to get him. As to his being 
low, we don't know that he is. Putting aside that 
one mysterious episode of his being down at our place 
in hiding, which I suppose we shall never come to the 
bottom of, we know nothing of what Everty has, or 
has not been." 

'^ You shut up, Johnny. Common sense is common 
sense." 

" Everty 's being here — we can't associate with him, 
you know. Tod — affords a good opportunity for break- 
ing off the visits to High Street." 

'' Who wants to break off the visits to High Street ? " 

'*'I do, for one. Madame Sophie's is a dangerous 
atmosphere." 

'' Dangerous for you, Johnny ? " 

" Not a bit of it. Yoii know. Be wise in time, old 
fellow." 

'' Of all the muffs living, Johnny, j^ou are about the 
greatest. In the old days you feared I might go in 
for marrying Sophie Chalk. I don't see what you can 
fear now. Do you suppose I should run away with 
another man's wife ? '* 

'' Nonsense, Tod!'*' 



m JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

" Well, what else is it ? Come ! Out with it." 

'' Do you think our people or the Whitneys would 
like it if they knew we are intimate with her ? '' 

'' They'd not die of it, I expect." 

" I don't like her, Tod. It is not a nice thing of her 
to allow the play and the betting, and to have all 
those fellows there when they choose to go." 

Tod took his shoulder from the mantelpiece, and 
sat down to his imposition : one he had to write 
for having missed chapel. 

" You mean well, Johnny, though you are a muff." 

Later in the day I met Dr. Applerigg. He signed 
to me to stop. " Mr. Ludlow, I find that what you 
told me this morning was true. And I withdraw 
every word of condemnation that I spoke. I wish I 
had never greater cause to find fault than I have with 
you, in regard to this matter. Not that I can sanction 
your being out so late, although the plea of excuse be 
a dying man. You understand ? " 

" Yes, sir. It shall not occur again." 

Down at the house in Stagg s Entry, that evening, 
Mrs. Cann met me on the stairs. " One of the great 
college doctors was here to-day, sir. He came up 
asking all manner of questions about you — whether 
you'd been here till a'most midnight yesterday, and 
what you'd stayed so late for, and — and all about it." 

Dr. Applerigg ! " What did you tell him, Mrs. 
Cann ? " 

'' Tell him, sir ! what should I tell him but the 
truth ? That you had stayed here late because of 
Charley's being took worse and nobody with him, and 
had read the burial service to him for his asking ; and 
that you came most evenings, and was just as good 



OUE FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 379 

to him as gold. He said he'd see Charley for himself 
then ; and he went in and talked to him, oh so gently 
and nicely about his soul ; and gave little Nanny half- 
a-crown when he went away. Sometimes it happens, 
sir, that those who look to have the hardest faces have 
the gentlest hearts. And Charley's dying, sir. He 
was took worse again this evening at five o'clock, and 
I hardly thought he'd have lasted till now. The doctor 
has been, and thinks he'll go oft* quietly." 

Quietly perhaps in one sense, but it was a restless 
death-bed. He was not still a minute; but he Avas 
quite sensible and calm. Waking up out of a doze 
when I went in, he held out his hand. 

'' It is nearly over, sir." 

I was sure of that, and sat down in silence. There 
could be no mistaking his looks. 

" I have just had a strange dream," he whispered, 
between his laboured breath ; and his eyes were wet 
with tears, and he looked curiously agitated. "I 
thought I saw mother. It was in a wide place, all 
light and sunshine, too beautiful for anything but 
heaven. Mother was looking at me ; I seemed to be 
outside in dulness and darkness, and not to know 
how to get in. Others that I've known in my lifetime, 
and who have gone on before, were there, as well as 
mother ; they all looked happy, and there was a soft 
strain of music, like nothing I ever heard in this 
world. All at once, as I was wondering how I could 
get in, my sins seemed to rise up before me in a great 
cloud; I turned sick, thinking of them; for I knew 
no sinful person might enter there. Then I saw One 
standing on the brink ! it could only have been 
Jesus ; and He held out His hand to me and smiled, 



380 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

' I am here to wash out your sins/ He said, and I 
thought He touched me with His finger ; and oh, the 
feeling of dehght that came over me, of repose, of 
bliss, for I knew that all earth's troubles were over, 
and I had passed into rest and peace for ever." 

Nanny came up, and gave him one or two spoonfuls 
of wine. 

'' I don't believe it was a dream," he said, after a 
pause. '' I think it was sent to show me what it is I 
am entering on ; to uphold me through the darksome 
valley of the shadow of death." 

''Mother said she should be watching for us, you 
know, Charley," said the child. 

A restless fit came over him again, and he stirred 
uneasily. When it had passed, he was still for awhile 
and then looked up at me. 

'' It was the new heaven and the new earth, sir, 
that we are told of in the Eevelation. Would you 
mind, sir — just those few verses— reading them to me 
for the last time ? " 

Nanny brought the Bible, a^nd put the candle on 
the stand, and I read what he asked for — the first few 
verses of the twenty-first chapter. The little girl 
kneeled down by the bed and joined her hands 
together. 

" That's enough, Nanny," I v/hispered. '' Put the 
candle back." 

'' But I did not tell all my dream," he resumed ; 
'' not quite all. As I passed over into heaven, I 
thought I looked down here again. I could see the 
places in the world; I could see this same Oxford 
city. I saw the men here in it, sir, at their cards and 
their dice and their drink; at all their thoughtless 



OUR FIEST TERM AT OXFORD. 381 

folly. Spending their days and nights without a care 
for the end, without as much as thinking whether 
they need a Saviour or not. And oh, their condition 
troubled me ! I seemed to understand all things 
plainly then, sir. And I thought if they would but 
once lift up their hearts to Him, even in the midst of 
their sin, He would take care of them even then, and 
save them from it in the end — for He v/as tempted 
Himself once, and knows how sore their temptations 
are. In my distress, I tried to call out and tell them 
this, and it awoke me." 

"Do you think he ought to talk, sir?" whispered 
Nanny. But nothing more could harm him now. 

My time was up, and I ought to be going. Poor 
Charley spoke so imploringly — almost as though the 
thought of it startled him. 

"Not yet, sir; not yet! Stay a bit longer with 
me. It is for the last time." 

And I stayed : in spite of my word passed to Dr. 
Applerigg. It seems to me a solemn thing to cross 
the wishes of the dying. 

So the clock went ticking on. Mrs. Cann stole in 
and out, and a lodger from below came in and looked 
at him. Before twelve all was over. 

I went hastening home, not much caring whether 
the proctor met me again, or whether he didn't, for in 
any case I must go to Dr. Applerigg in the morning, 
and tell him I had broken my promise to him, and 
why. Close at the gates some one overtook and 
passed me. 

It was Tod. Tod with a white face, and his hair 
damp with running. He had come from Sophie 
Chalk's. 



382 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

"What is it, Tod?" 

I laid my hand upon his arm in speaking. He 
threw it off with a word that was very like an 
imprecation. 

" What is the matter ? '' 

'' The devil's the matter. Mind your own business, 
Johnny." 

" Have you been quarrelling with Everty ? " 

" Everty be hanged ! The man has betaken him- 
self off." 

'' How much have you lost to-night ? " 

" Cleaned-out, lad. That's all." 

We got to our room in silence. Tod turned over 
some cards that lay on the table, and trimmed the 
candle from a thief 

'' Tasson's dead, Tod.", 

" A good thing if some of us were dead," was the 
answer. And he turned into his chamber and bolted 
the door. 



III. 

Lunch-time at Oxford, and a sunny day. Instead of 
college and our usual fare, bread-and-cheese fj'om the 
buttery, we were looking on the High Street from 
Mrs. Everty's rooms, and about to sit down to a snow- 
white damasked table with no end of good things 
upon it. Madam Sophie had invited four or five of 
us to lunch with her. 

The term had gone on, and Easter was not far off. 
Tod had not worked much : just enough to keep him 



OUK FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 383 

out of hot- water. His mind ran on Sophie Chalk 
more than it did on lectures and chapel. He and the 
other fellows who were caught by her fascinations 
mostly spent their spare time there. Sophie dispersed 
her smiles pretty equally, but Tod contrived to get 
the largest share. The difference was this : they had 
lost their heads to her and Tod his heart. The even- 
ing card-playing did not flag, and the stakes played 
for were high. Tod and Gaiton were the general 
losers : a run of ill-luck had set in from the first for 
both of them. Gaiton might afford this, but Tod 
could not. 

Tod had his moments of reflection. He'd sit some- 
times for an hour together, his head bent down, 
whistling softly to himself some slow dolorous 
strain, and pulling at his dark whiskers ; no doubt 
pondering the question of what was to be the upshot 
of it all. For my part, I devoutly wished Sophie 
Chalk had been caught up into the moon before an 
ill- wind had wafted her to Oxford. It was an awful 
shame of her husband to let her stay on there, turn- 
ing the under-graduates' brains. Perhaps he could 
not help it. 

We sat down to table : Sophie at its head in a 
fresh-looking pink gown and bracelets and nicknacks. 
Lord Gaiton and Tod sat on either side of her; 
Richardson was at the foot, and Fred Temple and 
I faced each other. What fit of politeness had 
taken Sophie to invite me, I could not imagine. 
Possibly she thought I should be sure to refuse ; but 
I did not. 

" So kind of you all to honour my poor little table ! '' 
said Sophie, as we sat down. " Being in lodgings, I 



384 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

cannot treat you as I should wish. It is all cold : 
chickens, meat-patties, lobster-salad, and bread-and- 
cheese. Lord Gaiton, this is sherry by you, I think. 
Mr. Richardson, you like porter, I know: there is 
some on the chiffonier." 

We plunged into the dishes without ceremony, each 
one according to his taste, and the lunch progressed. 
I may as well mention one thing — that there was 
nothing in Mrs. Everty's manners at any time to take 
exception to : never a word was heard from her, never 
a look seen, that could offend even an old dowager. 
She made the most of her charms and her general 
fascinations, and flirted quietly ; but all in a lady-like 
Avay. 

" Thank you, yes ; I think I will take a little more 
salad, Mr. Richardson," she said to him with a beaming 
smile. ''It is my dinner, you know. I have not a 
hall to dine in to-night, as you gentlemen have. I 
am sorry to trouble you, Mr. Johnny." 

I was holding her plate for Richardson. There 
happened at that moment to be a lull in the talking, 
and we heard a carriage of some kind stop at the 
door, and a loud peal at the house-bell. 

" It's that brother of mine," said Fred Temple. " He 
bothered me to drive out to some confounded place 
with him, but I told him I wouldn't. What's he 
bumping up the stairs in that fashion for ? " 

The room-door was flung open, and Fred Temple 
put on a savage face, for his brother looked after him 
more than he liked ; when, instead of Temple major, 
there appeared a shining big brown satin bonnet, and 
an old lady's face under it, who stood there with a, 
walkino;-stick. 



OUH FIRST TEEM AT OXFORD. 385 

'^Yes, you see I was right, grandmamma; I said 
she was not gone," piped a shrill voice behind ; and 
Mabel Smith, in an old-fashioned black silk frock 
and tippet, came into view. They had driven up to 
look after Sophie. 

Sophie was equal to the occasion. She rose grace- 
fully and held out both her hands, as though they had 
been welcome as is the sun in harvest. The old lady 
leaned on her stick, and stared around: the many 
faces seemed to confuse her. 

" Dear me ! I did not know you had a luncheon^ 
party, ma'am." 

"Just two or three friends who have dropped in, 
Mrs. Golding," said Sophie, airily. "Let me take 
your stick." 

The old lady, who looked like a very amiable old 
lady, sat down in the nearest chair, but kept the 
stick in her hand. Mabel Smith was regarding every- 
thing with her shrewd eyes and compressing her thin 
lips. 

" This is Johnny Ludlow, grandmamma ; you have 
heard me speak of him : I don't know the others.** 

"How do you do, sir," said the old lady, politely 
nodding her brown bonnet at me. "I hope you are 
in good health, sir ? " 

"Yes, ma'am, thank you." For she put it as 
a question, and seemed to await an answer. Tod 
and the rest, who had risen, began to sit down 
again. 

" I'm sure I am sorry to disturb you at luncheon, 
ma'am," said the old lady to Mrs. Everty. " We came 
in to see whether you had gone home or not. I said 
you of course had gone ; that you wouldn't stay away 

Johnny Ludlow. ~V. 25 



386 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

from your husband so long as this ; and also because 
we had not heard of you for a month past. But Mabel 
thought you were here still." 

'' I am intending to return shortly/' said Sophie. 

'' That's well : for I want to send up Mabel. And 
I brought in a letter that came to my house this 
morning, addressed to you," continued the old lady, 
lugging out of her pocket a small collection of articles 
before she found the letter. "Mabel says it is your 
husband's handwriting, ma'am; if so, he must be 
thinking you are staying with me." 

"Thanks," said Sophie, slipping the letter away 
unopened. 

" Had you not better see what it says ? " suggested 
Mrs. Golding to her. 

''Not at all: it can wait. May I offer you some 
luncheon ? " 

" Much obleeged, ma'am, but I and Mabel took an 
early dinner before setting out. And on which day, 
Mrs. Everty, do you purpose going ? " 

" I'll let you know," said Sophie. 

" What can have kept you so long here ? " continued 
the old lady, wonderingly. " Mabel said you did not 
know any of the inhabitants." 

" I have found it of service to my health," replied 
Sophie with charming simplicity. '' Will you take a 
glass of sherry, Mrs. Golding ? " 

" I don't mind if I do. Just half a glasa Thank 
you, sir; not much more than half" — to me, as I 
went forward with the glass and decanter. ''I'm 
sure, sir, it is good of you to be attentive to an old 
lady like me. If you had a mind for a brisk walk at 
any time, of three miles, or so, and would come over 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 387 

to my house, I'd make you welcome. Mabel, write 
down the address." 

''And I wish you had come while I was there, 
Johnny Ludlow," said the girl, giving me the paper. 
" I like you. You don t say smiling words to people 
with your lips and mock at them in your heart, as 
some do." 

I remembered that she had not been asked to take 
anj^ wine, and I offered it. 

''No, thank you," she said with emphasis. " None 
for me." And it struck me that she refused because 
the wine belonged to Sophie. 

The old lady, after nodding a farewell around and 
shaking hands with Mrs. Everty, stood leaning on her 
stick between the doorway and the stairs. "My 
servant's not here," she said, looking back, " and these 
stairs are steep : would any one be good enough to 
help me down ? " 

Tod went forward to give her his arm ; and we 
heard the fly drive away with her and Mabel. Some- 
how the interlude had damped the free go of the 
banquet, and we soon prepared to depart also. Sophie 
made no attempt to hinder it, but said she should 
expect us in to take some tea with her in the evening : 
and the lot of us filed out together, some going one 
way, some another. I and Fred Temple kept together. 

There was a good-natured fellow at Oxford that 
term, who had come up from Wales to take his degree, 
and had brought his wife with him, a nice kind of 
young girl who put me in mind of Anna Whitney. 
They had become acquainted with Sophie Chalk, and 
liked her; she fascinated both. She meant to do it 
too : for the companionship of staid irreproachable 



388 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

people like Mr. and Mrs. Ap-JenkynS; reflected credit 
on herself in the eyes of Oxford. 

" I thought we should have met the Ap- Jenkynses, 
at lunch/' remarked Temple. " What a droll old party 
that was with the stick ! She puts me in mind of — I 
say, here's another old party ! " he broke off. " Seems 
to be a friend of yours." 

It was Mrs. Cann. She had stopped, evidently 
wanting to speak to me. 

"I have just been to put little Nanny Tasson in the 
train for London, sir," she said ; " I thought you 
might like to know it. Her eldest brother, the one 
that's settled there, has taken to her. His wife wrote 
a nice letter and sent the fare." 

"All right, Mrs. Cann. I hope they'll take good 
care of her. Good-afternoon." 

" Who the wonder is Nanny Tasson ? " cried Temple 
as we went on. 

"Only a little friendless child. Her brother was 
Our scout when we first came, and he died." 
" Oh, by Jove, Ludlow ! Look there ! " 
I turned at Temple's words. A gig was dashing by 
as large as life ; Tod in it, driving Sophie Chalk. 
Behind it dashed another gig, containing Mr. and Mrs. 
Ap-Jenkyns. Fred Temple laughed. 

"Mrs. Everty's unmistakably charming," said he, 
" and we don't know any real harm of her, but if I 
were Ap-Jenkyns I should not let my wife be quite 
her bosom companion. As to Todhetley, I think he's 
a gone calf." 

Whitney came to our room as I got in. He had 
been invited to the luncheon by Mrs. Everty, but ex- 
cused himself, and she asked Fred Temple in his place. 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 389 

" Well, Johnny, how did it go off? " 

"Oh, pretty well. Lobster-salad and other good 
things. Why did not you go ? " 

" Where's Tod ? " he rejoined, not answering the 
question. 

" Out on a driving-party. Sophie Chalk and the 
Ap-Jenkynses.'' 

Whitney whistled through the verse of an old song : 
"Froggy would a- wooing go." "I say, Johnny," he 
said presently, "you had better give Tod a hint to 
take care of himself. That thing will go too far if he 
does not look out.'' 

" As if Tod would mind me ! Give him the hint 
yourself. Bill." 

" I said half a word to him this morning after chapel : 
he turned on me and accused me of being jealous." 

We both laughed. 

" I had a letter from home yesterday," Bill went on, 
" ordering me to keep clear of Madam Sophie." 

"No! Who from?" 

"The mother. And Miss Deveen, V7ho is staying 
with them, put in a postscript." 

" How did they know Sophie Chalk was here ? " 

" Through me. One wet afternoon I wrote a 
long epistle to Harry, telling him, amidst other items, 
that Sophie Chalk was here, turning some of our 
heads, especially Todhetley's. Harry, like a flat, let 
Helen get hold of the letter, and she read it aloud, pro 
bono publico. There was nothing in it that I might 
not have written to Helen herself; but Mr. Harry 
won t get another from me in a hurry. Sophie seems 
to have fallen to a discount with the mother and Miss 
Deveen," 



390 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Bill Whitney did not know what I knew — the true 
Btory of the emeralds. 

" And that's why I did not go to the lunch to-day, 
Johnny. Who's this ? " 

It was the scout. He came in to bring in a small 
parcel, daintily done up in white paper. 

'' Something for you, sir/' he said to me. '' A boy 
has just left if 

'' It can't be for me — that I know of. It looks like 
wedding-cake." 

" Open it," said Bill. " Perhaps one of the grads has 
gone and got married." 

We opened it together, laughing. A tiny paste- 
board box loomed out with a jeweller's name on it ; 
inside it was a chased gold cross, attached to a slight 
gold chain. 

^' It's a mistake. Bill. I'll do it up again." 

Tod came back in time for dinner. Seeing the 
little parcel on the mantelshelf, he asked what it was. 
So I told him — something that the jeweller's shop 
must have sent to our room by mistake. Upon that, 
he tore the paper open ; called the shop people hard 
names for sending it into college, and put the box in 
his pocket. Which showed that it was for him. 

I went to Sophie's in the evening, having promised 
her, but not as soon as Tod, for I stayed to finish 
some Greek. Whitney went with me, in spite of his 
orders from home. The luncheon-party had all 
assembled there with the addition of Mr. and Mrs. 
Ap-Jenkyns. Sophie sat behind the tea-tray, dis- 
pensing tea; Gaiton handed the plum-cake. She 
wore a silken robe of opal tints ; white lace fell over 
her wrists and bracelets; in her hair, brushed off 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 391 

her face, fluttered a butterfly with silver wings ; and 
on her neck was the chased gold cross that had come 
to our rooms a few hours before. 

^" Tod's just a fool, Johnny/' said Whitney in my 
ear, ^^Upon my word, I think he is. And she's a 
syren ! — and it was at our house he met her first ! " 

After Mr. and Mrs. Ap-Jenkyns left, for she was 
tired, they began cards. Sophie was engrossing 
Gaiton, and Tod sat down to ecarte. He refused at 
first, but Kichardson drew him on. 

"I'll show Tod the letter I had from home," said 
Whitney to me as we went out. '' What can possess 
him to go and buy gold crosses for her ? She's 
married." 

"Gaiton and Richardson buy her things also, 
Bill." 

" They don't know how to spend their money fast 
enough. I wouldn't : I know that." 

Tod and Gaiton came in together soon after I got 
in. Gaiton just looked in to say good-night, and 
proposed that we should breakfast with him on the 
morrow, saying he'd ask Whitney also : and then he 
went up to his own rooms. 

Tod fell into one of his thinking fits. He had work 
to do, but he sat staring at the fire, his legs stretched 
out. With all his carelessness he had a conscience 
and some forethought. I told him Bill Whitney had 
had a lecture from home, touching Sophie Chalk, and 
I conclude he heard. But he made no sign. 

" I wish to goodness you wouldn't keep up that tink- 
ling, Johnny," he said by-and-by, in a tone of irritation. 

The " tinkling " was a bit of quiet harmony. How- 
ever, I shut down the piano, and went and sat by the 



392 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

fire, opposite to him. His brow looked troubled ; he 
was running his hands through his hair. 

''I wonder whether I could raise some money, 
Johnny/' he began, after a bit. 

" How much money ? " 

" A hundred, or so." 

"You'd have to pay a hundred and fifty for 
doing it." 

'' Confound it, yes ! And besides " 

" Besides what ? " 

'' Nothing." 

*' Look here, Tod : we should have gone on as 
straightly and steadily as need be but for her. As it 
is, you are wasting your time and getting out of the 
way of work. What's going to be the end of it ? " 

" Don't know myself, Johnny." 

" Do you ever ask yourself ? " 

" Where's the use of asking ? " he returned, after a 
pause. " If I ask it of myself at night, I forget it by 
the morning." 

" Pull up at once. Tod. You'd be in time." 

"Yes, now: don't know that I shall be much 
longer," said Tod candidly. He was in a soft mood 
that night ; an unusual thing with him. " Some 
awful complication may come of it : a few writs or 
something." 

" Sophie Chalk can't do you any good. Tod." 

" She has not done me any harm." 

"Yes she has. She has unsettled you from the 
work that you came to Oxford to do ; and the play in 
her rooms has caused you to run into debt that you 
don't know how to get out of: it's nearly as much 
harm as she can do you," 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 393 

" As much as she can do any honest fellow. Tocl, 
if you were to lapse into crooked paths, you'd break 
the good old pater's heart. There's nobody in the 
world he cares for as he cares for you.'* 

Tod sat twitching his whiskers. I could not under- 
stand his mood : all the carelessness and the fierceness 
had quite gone out of him. 

"It's the thought of the father that pulls me up, 
lad. What a cross-grained world it is ! Why should 
a bit of pleasure be hedged in with thorns ? " 

"If we don't go to bed we shall not be up for 
chapel." 

" You can go to bed." 

" Why do you drive her out, Tod ? " 

" Why does the sun shine ? " was the lucid answer. 

" I saw you with her in that gig to-day." 

" We only went four miles. Four out and four in." 

" You may be driving her rather too far some day 
— fourteen, or so." 

"I don't think she'd be driven. With all her 
simplicity, she knows how to take care of herself." 

Simplicity ! I looked at him ; and saw he spoke the 
word in good faith. He was simple. 

" She has a husband, Tod." 

"Well?" 

" Do you suppose he would like to see you driving 
her abroad ? — and all you fellows in her rooms to the 
last minute any of you dare stop out ? " 

" That's not my affair. It's his." 

"Any way, Everty might come down upon the lot 
of you some of these fine days, and say things you'd 
not like. Shes to blame. Why, you heard what that 



394 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

old lady in the brown bonnet said — that her husband 
must think Sophie was staying with her." 

" The fire's low, and I'm cold/' said Tod. " Good- 
night, Johnny." 
i He went into his room, and I to mine. 

A few years ago, there appeared a short poem called 
"Amor Mundi."* While reading it, I involuntarily 
recalled this past experience at Oxford, for it described 
a young fellow's setting-out on the downward path, 
as Tod did. Two of life's wayfarers start on their 
long life journey : the woman first ; the man sees and 
joins her; then speaks to her. 

" Oh, wliere are you going, with your love-locks flowing, 
And the west wind blowing along the narrow track ? " 

" This downward path is easy, come with me, an it please ye ; 
We shall escape the up-hill by never turning back." 

So they two went together in the sunny August weather ; 

The honey-blooming heather lay to the left and right : 
And dear she was to dote on, her small feet seemed to float on 

The air, like soft twin-pigeons too sportive to alight. 

And so they go forth, these two, on their journey, 
revelling in the summer sunshine and giving no heed 
to their sliding progress ; until he sees something in 
the path that startles him. But the syren accounts 
for it in some plausible way ; it lulls his fear, and 
onward they go again. In time he sees something 
worse, halts, and asks her again : 

•' Oh, what's that in the hollow, so pale I quake to follow ? " 
" Oh, that's a thin dead body that waits the Eternal term." 

The answer effectually arouses him, and he pulls up 

* Christina G. Rossetti. 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 395 

in terror, asking her to turn. She answers again, and 
he knows his fate. 

*' Turn again, oh my sweetest ! Turn again, false and fleetest ! 

This way, "whereof thou weetest, is surely Hell's own track ! " 
*' Nay, too late for cost counting, nay too steep for hill-mounting. 

This downward path is easy, but there's no turning back." 

Shakespeare tells us that there is a tide in the affairs 
of man, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune : 
omitted, all the voyage of the after life is spent in 
shoals and miseries. That will apply to other things 
besides fortune. I fully believe that after a young 
fellow has set out on the downward path, in almost 
all cases there's a chance given him of pulling up 
again, if he only is sufficiently wise and firm to 
seize upon it. The opportunity was to come for Tod. 
He had started ; there was no doubt of that ; but he 
had not got down very far yet and conld go backward 
almost as easily as forward. Left alone, he would 
probably make a sliding run of it, and descend into 
the shoals. Bnt the chance for him was at hand. 

Our commons and Whitney's went up to Gaiton's 
room in the morning, and we breakfasted there. 
Lecture that day was at eleven, but I had work to 
do beforehand. So had Tod, for the matter of that ; 
plenty of it. I went down to mine, but Tod stayed 
up with the two others. 

Bursting into our room, as a fellow does when he is 
late for anything, I saw at the open window somebody 
that I thought must be Mr. Brandon's ghost. It took 
me aback, and for a moment I stood staring. 

" Have you no greeting for me, Johnny Ludlow ? " 

" I was lost in surprise, sir. I am very glad to 
see you." 



39G JOHNNY LUDLOW, 

^' I dare say you are ! '' he returned, as if he doubted 
my word. '' It's a good half-hour that I have waited 
here. You've been at a breakfast-party ! " 

He must have got that from the scout. " Not at a 
party, sir. Gaiton asked us to take our commons up, 
and breakfast with him in his room." 
, " Who is Gaiton ? " 

"He is Lord Gaiton. One of the students at 
Christchurch." 

'' Never mind his being a lord. Is he any good ? " 

I could not say Gaiton was particularly good, so 
passed the question over, and asked Mr. Brandon 
when he came to Oxford. 

"I got here at mid-day yesterday. How are you 
getting on ? " 

" Oh, very well, sir." 

'' Been in any rows ? " 

"No, sir." 

" And Todhetley ? How is he getting on ? " 

I should have said very well to this ; it would 
never have done to say very ill, but Tod and Bill 
Whitney interrupted the answer. They looked just 
as much surprised as I had been. After talking a bit, 
Mr. Brandon left, saying he should expect us all three 
at the Mitre in the evening when dinner in Hall was 
over. 

" What the deuce brings him at Oxford ? " cried Tod. 

Whitney laughed. "Ill lay a crown he has come 
to look after Johnny and his morals." 

" After the lot of us," added Tod, pushing his books 
about. " Look here, you two. I'm not obliged to go 
bothering to that Mitre in the evening, and I shan't. 
You'll be enouo'h without me." 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 397 

''It won't do, Tod/' I said. " He expects you." 

"What if he does? I have an engagement else- 
where." 

"Break it." 

" I shall not do anything of the kind. There ! Hold 
your tongue, Johnny, and push the ink this way." 

Tod held to that. So when I and Whitney reached 
the Mitre after dinner, we said he was unable to get 
off a previous engagement, putting the excuse as 
politely as we could. 

*' Oh,'' said old Brandon, twitching his yellow silk 
handkerchief off his head, for he had been asleep 
before the fire. " Engaged elsewhere, is he ! With 
the lady I saw him driving out yesterday, I suppose ; 
a person with blue feathers on her head." 

This struck us dumb. Bill said nothing, neither 
did I. 

"It was Miss Sophie Chalk, I presume," went on 
old Brandon, ringing the bell. '' Sit down, boys ; 
we'll have tea up." 

The tea and coffee must have been ordered before- 
hand, for they came in at once. Mr. Brandon drank 
four cups of tea, and ate a plate of bread-and-butter 
and some watercress. 

'' Tea is my best meal in the day," he said. " You 
young fellows all like coffee best. Don't spare it. 
What's that hy you, William Whitney ? — anchovy 
toast ? Cut that pound-cake, Johnny." 

Nobody could say, with all his strict notions, that 
Mr. Brandon was not hospitable. He'd have ordered 
up the Mitre's whole larder had he thought we could 
eat it. And never another word did he say about 
Tod until the things had gone away. 



398 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Then he began, quietly at first : he sitting on one 
side the fire, I and Bill on the other. Touching gently 
on this, alluding to that, our eyes opened in more 
senses than one; for we found that he knew all about 
Sophie Chalk's sojourn in the town, the attention 
she received from the undergraduates; and Tod's 
infatuation. 

" What's Todhetley's object in going there ? " he 
asked. 

" Amusement, I think, sir," hazarded Bill. 

'' Does he gamble there for amusement too ? " 

Where on earth had old Brandon got hold of all 
this ? 

'' How much has Todhetley lost already ? " he con- 
tinued. ''He is in debt, I know. Not for the first 
time from the same cause." 

Bill stared. He knew nothing of that old episode 
in London with the Clement-Pells. I felt my face 
flush. 

" Tod does not care for playing really, sir. But the 
cards are there, and he sees others play and gets 
drawn in to join." 

'' Well, what amount has he lost this time, Johnny ? " 

'' I don't know, sir." 

'• But you know that he is in debt ? " 

" I — yes, sir. Perhaps he is a little." 

"Look here, boys," said old Brandon. "Believing 
that matters were not running in a satisfactory groove 
with some o£ you, I came down to Oxford yesterday 
to look about me a bit — for I don't intend that Johnny 
Ludlow shall lapse into bad ways, if I can keep him 
out of them. Todhetley may have made up his mind 
^o go to the deuce, but he shall not take Johnny with 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 399 

him. I hear no good report of Todhetley ; he neglects 
his studies for the sake of a witch^ and is in debt over 
his head and shoulders." 

" Who could have told you that, sir ? " 

" Never you mind, Johnny Ludlow ; I dare say you 
know it's pretty true. Now look here — as I said just 
now\ I mean to see what I can do towards saving 
Todhetley, for the sake of my good old friend, the 
Squire, and for his dead mother's sake ; and I appeal 
to you both to aid me. You can answer my questions 
if you will ; and you are not children, that you should 
make an evasive pretence of ignorance. If I find 
matters are too hard for me to cope with, I shall send 
for the Squire and Sir John Whitney ; their influence 
may effect what mine cannot. If I can deal with the 
affair successfully, and save Todhetley from himself, 
I'll do so, and say nothing about it anywhere. You 
understand me ? " 

'^ Yes, sir." 

" Very well. To begiu with, what amount of debt 
has Todhetley got into ? " 

It seemed to be a choice of evils : but the least of 
them was to speak. Bill honestly said he would tell 
in a minute if he knew. I knew little more than he ; 
only that Tod had been saying the night before he 
wished he could raise a hundred pounds. 

" A hundred pounds ! " repeated old Brandon, nodding 
his head like a Chinese mandarin. ''Pretty well, 
that, for a first term at Oxford. Well, we'll leave 
that for the present, and go to other questions. 
What snare and delusion is drawing him on to make 
visits to this person, this Sophie Chalk ? What does 
he purpose ? Is it marriage ? " 



400 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

Marriage 1 Bill and I both looked up at him. 

" She is married already, sir. Did you not know it?" 

'' Married already ! Who says so ? " 

So I told him all about it — as much as I knew — 
and that her husband, Mr. Everty, had been to Oxford 
once or twice to see her. 

'' Well, that's a relief," cried Mr. Brandon, drawing 
a deep breath, as though a fear of some kind had been 
lifted from his mind. And then he fell into a reverie, 
his head nodding incessantly, and his yellow hand- 
kerchief in his hand keeping time to it. 

" If it's better in one sense, it's worse in another," 
he squeaked. ** Todhetley's in love with her, I 
suppose ! " 

" Something like it, sir," said Bill. 

" What brainless fools some of you young men can 
be ! " 

But it was then on the stroke of nine, when Old 
Tom would peal out. Mr. Brandon hurried us away : 
he seemed to understand the notions of University 
life as well as we did : ordering us to say nothing to 
Tod, as he intended to speak to him on the morrow. 

And we concluded that he did. Tod came stalk- 
ing in during the afternoon in a white rage with 
somebody, and I thought it might be with old 
Brandon, 

The time passed. Mr Brandon stayed on at the 
Mitre as though he meant to make it his home for 
good, and was evidently watching. Tod seemed to 
be conscious of it, and to exist in a chronic state of 
irritation. Sophie Chalk stayed on also, and Tod was 
there more than ever. The affair had got wind some-^ 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 401 

how— I mean Tod's infatuation for her — and was 
talked of in the colleges. Richardson fell ill about 
that time: at least, he met with an accident which 
confined him to his bed : and the play at Mrs. Everty's 
was not much to speak of : I did not go, Mr. Brandon 
had interdicted it. Thus the time went on, and 
Passion Week was coming in. 

" Are you running for a wager, Johnny Ludlow ? " 

I was running down to the river and had nearly 
run over Mr. Brandon, who was strolling along with 
his hands under his coat-tails. It was Saturday after- 
noon, and some of us were going out rowing. Mr. 
Brandon came down to see us embark. 

As we all stood there, who should loom into sight 
but Sophie Chalk. She was leading a little mouse- 
coloured dog by a piece of red tape, one that Fred 
Temple had given her; and her shining hair was a 
sight to be seen in the sunlight ; Tod walked by her 
with his arms folded. They halted to talk with some 
of us for a minute, and then went on, Madam Sophie 
giving old Brandon a saucy stare from her wide-open 
blue eyes. He had stood as still as a post, giving 
never a word to either of them. 

That same night, when Tod and I were in our room 
alone, Mr. Brandon walked in. It was pretty late, 
but Tod was about to depart on his visit to High 
Street. As if the entrance of Mr. Brandon had been 
the signal for him to bolt, he put on his trencher and 
turned to the door. Quick as thought, Mr, Brandon 
interposed himself. 

" If you go out of this room, Joseph Todhetley, it 
shall be over my body," cried he, a whole hatful of 
authority in his squeaky voice. " I have come in to 

JoliTiny Ludlow.— v. 26 



402 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

hold a final conversation with you; and I mean to 
do it." 

I thought an explosion was inevitable, with Tod's 
temper. He controlled it, however; and after a 
moment's hesitation put off his cap. Mr. Brandon sat 
down in the old big chair by the fire ; Tod stood on 
the other side, his arm on the mantelpiece. 

In a minute or two, they were going at it kindly. 
Old Brandon put Tod's doings before him in the 
plainest language he could command; Tod retorted 
insolently in his passion. 

'^ I have warned you enough against your ways and 
against that woman/' said Mr. Brandon. '' I am here 
to do it once again, and to bid you for the last time 
give up her acquaintanceship. Yes, sir, bid you : I 
stand in the light of your unconscious father." 

'^ I wouldn't do it for my father," cried Tod, in his fury. 

"She is leading you into a gulf of — of brimstone," 
fired old Brandon. "Day by day you creep down a 
step lower into it, sir, like a calf that is being wiled 
to the shambles. Once fairly in, you'll be smothered : 
the whole world won't be able to pull you out again." 

Tod answered with a torrent of words. The chief 
burden of them w^as — that if he chose to walk into 
the brimstone, it was not Mr. Brandon who should 
keep him out of it. 

" Is it not ? " retorted Mr. Brandon — and though he 
was very firm and hard, he gave no sign of losing his 
temper. " We'll see that. I am in this town to strive 
to save you, Joseph Todhetley ; and if I can't do it by 
easy means, I'll do it by hard ones. I got you out of 
one scrape, thanks to Johnny here, and now I'm going 
to get you out of another." 



OUK FIEST TEEM AT OXFORD. 403 

Tod held his peace. That past obligation was often 
on his conscience. 

"You ought to take shame to yourself, sir," con- 
tinued old Brandon. ''You were placed at Oxford 
to study, to learn to be a man and a gentleman, to 
prepare yourself to fight well the battle of life, not to 
waste the talents God has given you, and fritter away 
your best days in sin." 

" In sin ? " retorted Tod, jerking his head fiercely. 

"Yes, sir, in sin. What else do you call it — this 
idleness that you are indulging in ? The short space 
of time that young men spend at the University must 
be used, not abused. Once it has passed, it can never 
again be laid hold of. What sort of example are you 
setting my ward here, who is as your younger brother ? 
Stay where you are, Johnny Ludlow. I choose that 
you shall be present at this/' 

"Johnny need not fret himself that hell catch 
much harm' from my iniquities," said Tod with a 
sneer. 

" Now listen to me, young man," spoke Mr. Brandon. 
" If you persist in this insane conduct and refuse to 
hear reason, 111 keep you out of danger by putting 
you in prison." 

Tod stared. 

" You owe me a hundred pounds." 

" I am quite conscious of that, sir : and of my in- 
ability hitherto to repay it." 

"For that debt I will shut you up in prison. 
Headstrong young idiots like you must be saved from 
themselves." 

Tod laughed slightly in his insolence. A defiant, 
mocking laugh. 



404 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

"I should like to see you try to shut me up in 
prison ! You have no power to do it, Mr. Brandon : 
you have never proved the debt." 

Mr. Brandon rose, and took a step towards him. 
^' You dare to tell me I cannot do a thing that I say I 
will do, Joseph Todhetley ! I shall make an affidavit 
before a judge in chambers that you are about to leave 
the country, and obtain the warrant that will lock you 
up. And I say to you that I believe you are going to 
leave it, sooner or later ; and that Chalk woman with 
you!" 

'' What an awful lie," cried Tod, his face all ablaze. 

'^ Lie or no lie, I believe it. I believe it is what she 
will bring you to, unless you are speedily separated 
from her. And if there be no other way of saving 
you, why, I'll save you by force." 

Tod ran his hands through his damp hair: what 
with wrath and emotion he was in a fine heat. 
Knowing nothing of the law himself, he supposed old 
Brandon could do as he said, and it sobered him. 

'' I am your father s friend, Joseph Todhetley, and 
111 take care of you for his sake if I can. I have 
stayed on here, putting myself, as it were, into his 
place to save him pain. As his substitute, I have a 
right to be heard ; ay, and to act. Do you know that 
your dead mother was very dear to me ? I will tell 
3^ou what perhaps I never should have told you but 
for this crisis in your life, that her sisier was to me 
the dearest friend a man can have in this life; she 
would have been my wife but that death claimed her. 
Your mother was nearly equally dear, and loved me 
to the last. She took my hand in dying, and spoke 
of you ; of you, her only child. ' Should it ever be in 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 405 

your power to shield him frona harm or evil, do so, 
John/ she said, ' do it for my sake.' And with 
Heaven's help, I will do it now." 

Tod was moved. The mention of his mother 
softened him at all times. Mr. Brandon sat down 
again. 

" Don't let us play at this pitched battle, Joe. Hear 
a bit of truth from me, of common sense : can't you 
see that I have your interest at heart? There are 
two roads that lie before a young man on his setting 
out in life, either of which he can take : you can take 
either, even yet. The one leads to honour, to 
prosperity, to a clear conscience, to a useful career, 
to a hale and happy old age — and, let us hope, to 
heaven. The other leads to vice, to discomfort, to 
miserable self-torment, to a waste of talent and 
energies ; in short, to altogether a lost life. Lost, at 
any rate, for this world : and — we'll not speculate 
upon what it may be in the other. Are you attend- 
ing?" 

Tod just lifted his eyes in answer. I sat at the 
table by my books, silently turning some of their 
leaves, ready to drop through the floor with annoyance. 
Mr. Brandon resumed. 

" You have come to the Oxford University to perfect 
your education; to acquire self-reliance, experience, 
and a tone of good manners ; to keep upright ways, to 
eschew bad company, and to train yourself to be a 
Christian gentleman. Do this, and you will go home 
with satisfaction and a sound conscience. In time 
you will marry, and rear your children to good, and 
be respected of all men. This is the career expected 
of you ; this is the road you ought to take." 



40(3 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

He paused slightly, and then went on. 

'' I will put the other road before you ; the one you 
seem so eager to rush upon. Ah, boy I how many a 
one, with as hopeful a future before him as you have, 
has gone sliding, sliding down unconsciously, never 
meaning, poor fellow, to slide too far, and been lost in 
the vortex of sin and shame ! You are starting on 
well for it. Wine, and cards, and betting, and debt ; 
and a singing mermaid to lure you on ! That woman, 
with the hard light eyes, and the seductive airs, has 
cast her spell upon you. You think her an angel, no 
doubt ; I say she's more of an angel's opposite '' 

" Mr. Brandon ! " 

''There are women in the world who will conjure a 
man's coat off his back, and his pockets after it," per- 
sisted Mr. Brandon, drowning the interruption. " She 
is one of them. They are bad to the core. They are ; 
and they draw a man into all kinds of irretrievable 
entanglements. She will draw you : and the end 
may be that you'd find her saddled on you for good. 
Who will care to take your hand in friendship then ? 
Will you dare to clasp that of honest people, or hold 
up your face in the light of day ? No : not for very 
shame. That's what gambling and evil courses will 
bring a man to : and, his self-respect once gone, it's 
gone for ever. You will feel that you have raised a 
barrier between you and your kind: remembrance 
will be a sting, and your days will be spent in one 
long cry of too late repentance, ' Oh, that I had been 
wise in time ! ' " 

"You are altogether mistaken in her," burst out 
Tod. '' There's no harm in her. She is as particular 
as — as any lady need be." 



OUB FIBST TERM AT OXFORD. 407 

''No harm in her!'' retorted Mr. Brandon. ''Is 
there any good in her ? Put it at its best : she induces 
you to waste your time and your substance. How 
much money has the card-playing and the present- 
giving taken out of you, pray ? "What amount of 
debt has it involved you in ? More than you know 
how to pay." 

Tod winced. 

" Be wise in time, lad, now, without further delay, 
and break off this dangerous connection. I know that 
in your better moments you must see how fatal it may 
become. It is a crisis in your life ; it may be its 
turning-point ; and, as you choose the evil or the good, 
so may you be lost or saved in this world and in 
eternity." 

Tod muttered something about his not deserving to 
be judged so harshly. 

"I judge you not harshly yet : I say that evil will 
come unless you flee from it," said Mr. Brandon. 
" Don't you care for yourself ? — for your good name ? 
Is it nothing to you whether you turn out a scamp or 
a gentleman ? " 

To look at Tod just then, it was a great deal. 

" Have you any reverence for your father ? — for the 
memory of your mother ? Then you will do a little 
violence to your own inclinations, even though it be 
hard and difficult — more difficult than to get a double 
first ; harder than having the best tooth in your head 
drawn — and take your leave of that lady for ever. 
For your own sake, Joe ; for your own sake ! " 

Tod was pulling gently at his whiskers. 

" Send all folly to the wind, Joseph Todhetley ! 
Say to yourself, for God and myself will I strive 



408 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

henceforth ! It only needs a little steady resolution ; 
and you can call it up if you choose. You shall always 
find a friend in me. Write down on a bit of paper 
the sums you owe, and Til give you a cheque to cover 
them. Come, shake hands upon it." 

"You are very kind, sir,'' gasped Tod, letting his 
hand meet old Brandon's. 

''I hope you will let me be kind. Why, lad, you 
should have had more spirit than to renew an ac- 
quaintanceship with a false girl ; an adventurer, who 
has gone about the country stealing jewels." 

'' Stealing jewels ! " echoed Tod. 

" Stealing jewels, lad. Did you never know it ? 
She took Miss Deveen's emeralds at Whitney Hall." 

'' Oh, that was a mistake," said Tod, cheerfully. 
'' She explained it to me." 

*' A mistake, was it ! Explained it to you, did she ! 
When?" 

" At Oxford : before she had been here above a day 
or two. She introduced the subject herself, sir, saying 
she supposed I had heard something about it, and 
what an absurd piece of business the suspecting her 
was ; altogether a mistake." 

" Ah, she's a wily one, Joe," said Mr. Brandon. 
' Johnny Ludlow could have told you whether it was 
a mistake or not. Why, boy, she stole the stones out 
of Miss Deveen's own dressing-room, and went up to 
London the next day, or the next but one, and pledged 
them the same night at a pawnbroker s, in a false 
name, and gave a false account of herself. Moreover, 
when it was brought home to her, she confessed all 
upon her knees to Miss Deveen, and sued for mercy." 

Tod looked from Mr. Brandon to me. At the time 



OUB FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 409 

of the discovery, he had had a hint given him of the 
fact, with a view of more effectually weaning him from 
Sophie Chalk, but not the particulars. 

"It's true, Todhetley," said Mr. Brandon, nodding 
his head. " You may judge, therefore, whether she is 
a nice kind of person for you to be seen beauing about 
Oxford streets in the face and eyes of the dons." And 
Tod winced again, and bit his lips. 

Mr. Brandon rose, taking both Tod's hands in his, 
and said a few solemn words in the kindest tone I 
had ever heard him speak ; wrung his hands, nodded 
good-night to me, and was gone. Tod walked about 
the room a bit, whistling softly to make a show of 
indifference, and looking miserably cut up. 

" Is what he said true ? " he asked me presently, 
stopping by the -mantelpiece again: "about the 
emeralds ? " 

" Every word of it." 

" Then why on earth could you not open your 
mouth and tell me, Johnny Ludlow ? " 

" I thought you knew it. I'm sure you were told 
of it at the time. Had I brought up the matter again 
later, you'd have been fit to punch me into next week. 
Tod." 

" Let's hear the details — shortly." 

I went over them all ; shortly, as he said ; but 
omitting none. Tod stood in silence, never once inter- 
rupting. 

" Did the Whitneys know of this ? " 

"Anna did." 

"Anna!" 

"Yes. Anna had suspected Sophie from the first. 
She saw her steal out of Miss Deveen's room, and saw 



4i0 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

her sewing something into her stays at bed-time. But 
Anna kept it to herself until discovery had come." 

Tod could frown pretty well on ordinary occasions, 
but I never saw a frown like the one on his brow as 
he listened. And I thought — I thought — it was meant 
for Sophie Chalk. 

Lady Whitney, I expect, knows it all now, Tod. 
Perhaps Helen also. Old Brandon went over to the 
Hall to spend the day, and it was in consequence of 
what he heard from Lady Whitney and Miss Deveen 
that he came down here to look us up." 

" Meaning m^," said Tod. " Not us. Use right 
words, Johnny." 

''They did not know, you see, that Sophie Chalk 
was married. And they must have noticed that you 
cared for her.'' 

Tod made no comment. He just leaned against the 
shelf in silence. I was stacking my books. 

" Good-night, Johnny," he quietly said, without any 
appearance of resentment ; and went into his room. 

The next day was Palm Sunday. Tod lay in bed 
with a splitting headache, could not lift his head from 
the pillow, and his skin was as sallow as an old 
gander's. " Glad to hear it/' said Mr. Brandon, when 
I told him ; " it will give him a quiet day for 
reflection." 

A surprise awaited me that morning, and Mr. 
Brandon also. Miss Deveen was at Oxford, with 
Helen and Anna Whitney. They had arrived the 
evening before, and meant to stay and go up with 
Bill and with us. I did not- tell Tod : in fact, he 
seemed too ill to be spoken to, his head covered 
with the bedclothes. 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 411 

You cant see many a finer sight than the Broad 
Walk presents on the evening of Palm Sunday. 
Every one promenades there, from the dean down- 
wards. Our party went together : Miss Deveen, 
Helen, and Anna ; Bill, I, and Mr. Brandon. 

We were in the middle of the walk ; and it was at 
its fullest, when Tod came up. He was better, but 
looked worn and ill. A flush of surprise came into 
his face when he saw who we had with us, and he 
shook hands with the ladies nearly in silence. 

'' Oxford has not mended your looks, Mr. Todhetley," 
said Miss Deveen. 

" I have one of my bad headaches to-day," he 
answered. " I get them now and then." 

The group of us were turning to walk on, when in 
that moment there approached Sophie Chalk. Sophie 
in a glistening blue silk, and flowers, and jingling 
ornaments, and kid gloves. She was coming up to us 
as bold as brass with her fascinating smile, when she 
saw Miss Deveen, and stopped short. Miss Deveen 
passed on without notice of any kind ; Helen really 
did not see her; Anna, always gentle and kind, slightly 
bowed. Even then Madam Sophie's native inpudence 
came to her aid. She saw they meant to shun her, 
and she nodded and smiled at Tod, and made as 
though she would stop him for a chat. He took off 
his cap to her, and went on. Anna's delicate face 
had flushed, and his own was white enough for its 
cofiin. 

Miss Deveen held Tod's hand in parting. " I am so 
glad to have met you again," she cordially said ; '' we 
are all glad. We shall see you often, I hope, until we 
go up together. And all you young people are coming 



412 JOHNNY LUDLOW. 

to me for a few days in the Easter holidays. Friends 
cannot afford too long absences from one another in 
this short life. Good-bye; and mind you get rid of 
your headache for to-morrow. There; shake hands 
with Helen and Anna." 

He did as he was bid. Helen was gay as usual ; 
Anna rather shy. Her pretty blue eyes glanced up 
at Tod's, and he smiled for the first time that day. 
Sophie Chalk might have fascinated three parts of his 
heart away, but there was a corner in it remaining 
for Anna Whitney. 

I did not do it intentionally. Going into our room 
the next day, a sheet of paper with some writing on 
it lay on the table, the ink still wet. Supposing it 
was some message just left for me by Tod, I went up 
to read it, and caught the full sense of the lines. 

"Dear Mrs. Everty, 

" I have just received your note. I am sorry 
that I cannot drive you out to-day — and fear that I 
shall not be able to do so at all. Our friends, who 
are staying here, have to receive the best part of my 
leisure time. 

'' Faithfully yours, 

"J. TODHETLEY." 

And I knew by the contents of the note, by its 
very wording even, that the crisis was past, and Tod 
saved. 

''Thank you, Johnny! Perhaps you 11 read your 
own letters another time. That's mine." 

He had come out of his room with the envelopes 
and sealing-wax. 



OUR FIRST TERM AT OXFORD. 413 

"I beg your pardon, Tod. I thought it was a 
message you had left for me, seeing it lie open." 

'' YouVe read it, I suppose ? " 

" Yes, or just as good. My eyes seemed to take it 
all in at once; and I am as glad as though I had 
had a purse of gold given to me." 

" Well, it's no use trying to fight against a stream,** 
said he, as he folded the note. " And if I had known 
the truth about the emeralds, why — there'd have been 
no bother at all." 

"Putting the emeralds out of the question, she is 
not a nice person to know. Tod. And there's no tell- 
ing what might have come of it." 

"I suppose not. When the two paths, down-hill 
and up-hill, cross each other, as Brandon put it, and 
the one is pleasant and the other is not, one has to do 
a bit of battle with one's self in choosing the right." 

And something in his face told me that in the inter- 
vening day and nights, he had battled with himself 
as few can battle ; fought strenuously with the evil, 
striven hard for the good, and come out a conqueror. 

'*It has cost you pain." 

''Somewhat, Johnny. There are few good things 
in the way of duty but what do cost man pain — as it 
seems to me. The world and a safe conscience will 
give us back our recompense." 

" And heaven too. Tod." 

" Ay, lad ; and heaven." 

THE END. 



PRINTED BY \YILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND EECCLES. 



MRS. HENRY WOOD'S NOYELS. 

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ANNE HEREFORD. 29^/?. Thousand. 

DENE HOLLOW. 2bth Thousand. 

EDINA. 2m Thousand. 

A LIFE'S SECRET. 30^^ Thousand. 

COURT NETHERLEIGH. IWi Thousand. ^ 

LADY GRACE. {Now appears for the first time in cheap form^ 

BESSY RANE. 2Uh Thousand. 

PARKWATER. 20^7^ Thousand. 

THE UNHOLY WISH, and Other Stoeies. 

JOHNNY LUDLOW. 3rd Series. 

THE MASTER OF GREYLANDS. 25^^ Thousand, 

ORVILLE COLLEGE, mth Thousand. 

POMEROY ABBEY. 2\st Thousand. 

JOHNNY LUDLOW. 4th Series. 

ADAM GRAINGER. 

JOHNNY LUDLOW. 5th Series. 



Each Volume is printed from New Type, in crown 8vo size, and bound 
in scarlet cloth and lettered on the side, and will be sold separately. 
The published price is 3s. Qd. 

LONDON: 

RICHARD BENTLEY & SON, New Burlington Street, W. 

(^Publishers in Ordinary to Her Majesty the Queen.^